Carrie Mass Market Paperback – Sep 1 2005
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Why read Carrie? Stephen King himself has said that he finds his early work "raw," and Brian De Palma's movie was so successful that we feel like we have read the novel even if we never have. The simple answer is that this is a very scary story, one that works as well--if not better--on the page as on the screen. Carrie White, menaced by bullies at school and her religious nut of a mother at home, gradually discovers that she has telekinetic powers, powers that will eventually be turned on her tormentors. King has a way of getting under the skin of his readers by creating an utterly believable world that throbs with menace before finally exploding. He builds the tension in this early work by piecing together extracts from newspaper reports, journals, and scientific papers, as well as more traditional first- and third-person narrative in order to reveal what lurks beneath the surface of Chamberlain, Maine.
News item from the Westover (ME) weekly Enterprise, August 19, 1966: "Rain of Stones Reported: It was reliably reported by several persons that a rain of stones fell from a clear blue sky on Carlin Street in the town of Chamberlain on August 17th."
Although the supernatural pyrotechnics are handled with King's customary aplomb, it is the carefully drawn portrait of the little horrors of small towns, high schools, and adolescent sexuality that give this novel its power, and assures its place in the King canon. --Simon Leake --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
Gory and horrifying...you can't put it down.
New York Times
Guaranteed to chill you.
Shivering, shuddery, macabre evil!
Eerie and haunting -- sheer terror!
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You don't need me to tell you why you should read or re-read this book. This is Stephen King. By this point in time, unless you are just coming of age, you have already read this book if you are one of King's legions of fans or even if you were ever curious about this man's phenomenal success. Even more of you have probably seen the movie. While the movie was pretty faithful to the book, not even the magic of cinema can convey the true weight and atmosphere of this (or any other) book. Carrie is also King's first published novel. This is very important to would-be writers--clearly, King was still learning his craft when he wrote this novel, and thus the process of reading it provides any potential writer with a great learning experience. The format here is significantly different from King's more mature work. The story is told through several "voices," including a third-person account from a "survivor," extracts from research articles and newspaper items based on the events, as well as a more traditional author's voice. Thus, we get several perspectives on the characters and events. The story is not as fluid as it might be because we switch from one viewpoint to another as the tale unfolds. While I much prefer the style of King's later works, especially in terms of getting inside a character, King still infuses Carrie's world with realism and believability, proving that he can create masterful atmosphere and mood with any number of literary tools.
Another thing that lends atmosphere to this is King's use of parentheses to show the reader his characters' thoughts and impressions (did he invent this? I can't think of another author who does this), giving the reader a real feeling of identity with the characters.
It is also a very moving book; in addition to being a jolly good horror story, the characters evoke real feelings of sympathy. Carrie's plight is a familiar one; King evokes the middle-class high school pecking order with devastating accuracy, and the story, ultimately, is not only scary, but very sad.
It made a very good movie, incidentally. I recommend both. I've read a lot of Stephen King, but this one is still my favorite.
Both home life and high school life are nightmares, almost literally. King opens the story with Carrie getting her very first period in the locker room after gym class. She's up in arms about what to do - at 16 she has never experienced nor heard of such a thing. Her classmates turn vicious and scream chants of "Plug it up! Plug it up!" started by truly cruel Chris Hargensen. The girls then hurl tampons and sanitary napkins at her from the broken machine on the wall. Poor, helpless Carrie stands there, utterly confused and humiliated all the same, looking "the part of the sacrificial goat." The "fun" stops when Ms. Desjardin, the gym teacher intervenes, slapping Carrie to snap her out of her hysterical fit.
Carrie is sent home early that day. Out of all the girls, Sue Snell feels the guiltiest and wants to make it up to Carrie. So she convinces her boyfriend, Tommy Ross, to take Carrie to the prom. If you've seen the 70s movie, you know what goes down at the prom. If not, read and see.
At home, Carrie deals with a religiously fanatic mother who never spoke about menstruation because she believed it was sinful. Mrs. White is a single mother who preaches, what she believes to be Christ's ways, all through the neighborhood. When Carrie is "bad" and "sinful," she gets thrown into the prayer closet to "pray for forgiveness." Everything in Mrs. White's mind is sinful. And because Carrie's father died, she has no one else to turn to for help.
This novel, at times, is honestly horrifying. Lovers of scary stories (and King) are sure to enjoy this read. Some complain about the passages of Carrie White and her telekinesis but I found them to be the ideal story tie-in and quite useful to explain Carrie's past and further talk of her powers. If you've seen the movie, you may almost feel as if it's a must to read this book but that really isn't the case here. The book stands wonderful all on its own.
Chrissy K. McVay
Author of 'Souls of the North Wind'
Carrie is hated by the kids at her school, primarily because of her crazy and religiously twisted mother. Poor Carrie had "outcast" painted on her from her birth, which her mother saw as punishment for having sexual relations with her now deceased husband. Picked on constantly, Carrie begins to test her "flex" power that seems to have greatly increased in power since getting her first period. Things come to a head at the school prom, but that's all I'm going to say, since this story is so well known.
Called "gory and horrifying" and "sheer terror" by reviewers on the back of the book, I didn't find any of that in here. In fact, I saw this more as a tale about a young girl who is so tired of being teased and attacked for being different that she seeks revenge. Of course, she has a rather unique and violent way of getting revenge, but I think that every outsider growing up wished that they had some sort of power that could protect them from the other kids who were popular, bullies or just plain mean.
Of course, Sue Snell is another character that I'm sure we've all been at some time in our life. She picked on Carrie just like the others, but knew deep inside that she was wrong. She also knew that if she stood against the majority, she'd be ostracized exactly like Carrie.
In short, this is a really good book. It's very fast moving and reads rather easily. The constant switching between thoughts, settings, and characters did become rather annoying at times, but overall this is a good story. It isn't that scary. In fact, it's more a reflection of society than anything.
Recommended. It won't be my last King novel.