Carrie by Stephen King

In three words:

Telekenesis, bullying, atonement

What I thought:

I hadn’t been planning on reading this book; I was merely spending a lovely hour or so browsing the hundreds of titles on my Kindle (courtesy of a disc my brother-in-law gave me) and before I knew it I had read a quarter of the book. Another strange fact: despite being a HUGE crime/thriller fan this is only the second book I have ever read by Stephen King, the first being Firestarter when I was about thriteen (of which I have no memory whatsoever).

Carrie was one of King’s earlier books (in fact I think it may be his first writing under his own name rather than Richard Bachman) so perhaps it isn’t as polished as I hear his later works are but, let me tell you, this man can tell a story! Despite the fact that I know the story of Carrie (who doesn’t?) I found myself still as intrigued with the storyline and how Carrie ended up doing what she did. I loved the way that, between the main storyline, the book was made up of excerpts from other books, newspapers, AP Tickers and court transcripts.

 Imagine that this book has first come out (before the film and the noterioty) and you are reading the narrative of a teenage girl who is a school misfit, horribly bullied and humiliated and has a mother so religiously zealous that she locks her daughter in the closet over and over to punish her and pray. Right from the start, the book hints that something big and catastrophic is on its way and that it is imminent. The post-event transcripts and articles tell the reader that something is going to happen where people will end up dead and King drip-feeds us snippets of what is to come leading up to the moment itself. I know, you know, but imagine when it first came out….what a gripping read this must have been! Despite being familiar with the story, I found myself flipping those pages (or in this case, pressing that button) at an alarming rate.

Poor Carrie. She is unpopular, chunky, pimply and plain with no real understanding of the world around her (courtesy of her mother who calls her breasts dirtypillows and hasn’t forwarned her about menstruating because that is the devils work and she will need to be punished for it).  What better target for a group of hormone-crazy school girls who make her life a living misery (and that’s before she goes home). After a particularly nasty incident in the showers, Carrie first discovers (or re-discovers as it turns out) her powers of telekenesis which she proceeds to work on and hone in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, Sue Snell – one of the surviving members of Carries year group after Prom Night – decides to try and atone for the humiliation they all put Carrie through by asking her boyfriend Tommy (popular and good-looking straight A student) to ask Carrie to the prom. As Carrie prepares for the night of her life, someone else is plotting her downfall. When the town of Chamberlain wakes up on 27th May 1979, all is well. By nighttime, over 400 of them are dead!

Verdict: I really enjoyed this book. Despite falling into the horror genre, scary it isn’t. What you get instead is an intriguing and well-written plot which looks as if it may be a great foray into his later, scarier works (of which I have every intention of reading now).

Has anyone else read this? Which one do you think I should read next? And which one is the absolute scariest?

 

(source: I read this book on my Kindle)

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28 thoughts on “Carrie by Stephen King

  1. I read this book in high school, so I was definitely interested at the time by the “what if the bullies got what they deserved” theme in Carrie. It’s King’s first printed full-length book, yet you can see the genius already. If you haven’t read much King, I feel the earlier ones are the best. As he went along, in my opinion, his books got much gorier and “out there”. Firestarter was good, as was The Dead Zone, The Stand, Pet Sematary (his misspelling, not mine)….
    Thanks for bringing back this memory 🙂 Rae

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  2. I found Carrie the movie quite scary but I haven’t read the book.

    I read Duma Key by Stephen King last week and I expected a lot of scary moment, but I was disappointed. I saw the movie Mystery and this is still the most nightmarish movie I’ve ever seen (at least, seen all the way). I cannot possibly read that book and relive those awful moments I suffered when watching the movie. 🙂

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      • I actually found Misery much scarier than Pet Sematery (it took me only one reading of Misery to not want to read it again, whereas I read Pet Sematery three times before I decided I didn’t want to read it anymore!) and It is one of my all-time favorite books. 🙂 If you want a good scare, any of those are good; Thinner is pretty disturbing as well.

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  3. I’ve seen the movie which does get you cushion hugging in parts, but the book failed to scare me. I’d loved to be scared to death by a book, I’m still looking for that book that gets me hiding under the covers. I think the best King’s are Salem’s Lot, The Stand, IT and Pet Sematary. I haven’t read Stephen King for a long time, I have Under the Dome on my tbr. I used to read Richard Laymon a lot in my late teens then moved on to Stephen King, I think I’ll re read some after seeing your review 😉

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    • Thanks for the recs, Louise. If you want something scary, I tried to read SK’s son Joe Hill’s book The Heart Shaped Box a few years ago and had to put it down – it was about a ghost and it scared the life out of me. I may try to finish it this year if I’m brave enough 😉

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  4. How wonderful to have all the Stephen King books to look forward to! I think Christine would be similar to the two you’ve read. Pet Sematary is scary, especially if you have pets. My personal favourite is Lisey’s Story – told from a woman’s perspective. It’s a bit weird, but has some real tension in it.

    Looking forward to seeing what you’ll choose.

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  5. The Stand is his absolute best, but IT made me start to dislike clowns. Just saying. I’m also a huge SK fan, but it stopped after Insomnia, Liked that a lot, but after that it was less and less “My” SK. Pet Sematary is definitely a go.

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  6. I just started reading IT for a read a thon, first discussion on Wed but going once a month until Dec if interested.

    Like you I have only read one and it wasn’t scary.

    I heard Heartshaped Box was brilliant and scary, can’t wait to reas that now.

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  7. Wow, Carrie! That brings back memories. I used to devour Stephen King books when I was a teenager. The scariest at the time for me was Christine. It was about a red, possessed car. All was fine and dandy until my Grandfather gave me his RED car when I was 18, and our neighbour at the time said that I could use their garage as they didn’t have a car. I vividly remember having to walk past my RED car to switch the light off and lock the door before running home everytime!!!!!

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  8. Stephen King is one of my very favorite authors ever. Carrie was his first book under his own name, but his other name was Richard Bachman, Peter Straub is also a horror/thriller writer, and he and Stephen King have written a couple of books together. My favorite by far is The Stand, but I also loved The Talisman, It, and Pet Semetary too.

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  9. I was so scared when reading Pet Sematary that I could never finish it ! Frightening and sad…It really, really disturbed me.
    I guess I should give it another try after 20 years !

    “The Shining” was good, “Salem’s Lot”. I enjoyed as well.I have the Tommyknockers at home somewhere but have not read it yet.

    I’ve been wanting to read his son’s novel as well, Boof but what you said about it makes me think I might not be able to !

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  10. I was so scared when reading Pet Sematary that I could never finish it ! Frightening and sad…It really, really disturbed me.
    I guess I should give it another try after 20 years !

    “The Shining” was good, “Salem’s Lot” I enjoyed as well.I have the Tommyknockers at home somewhere but have not read it yet.

    I’ve been wanting to read his son’s novel as well, Boof but what you said about it makes me think I might not be able to !

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  11. I’d recommend The Green Mile – not scary, but definitely my favourite book by King. Misery is great; scary because it could happen. Also I’d recommend Thinner (published under the name Richard Bachman).

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