Carrie is Stephen King’s first novel to be published (in 1974), originally intended to be a short story and abandoned on multiple occasions. I’ve been meaning to read one of his (many) works for years. Where better than the beginning?
Carrie knew she should not use the terrifying power she possessed… But one night at her senior prom, Carrie was scorned and humiliated just one time too many, and in a fit of uncontrollable fury she turned her clandestine game into a weapon of horror and destruction…
I feel like Carrie is less of a novel and more of a sub-culture nowadays. Surprisingly, however, I’ve never seen either of the movie adaptations. I always intended to, but something always stopped me. Perhaps it was that classic bookworm niggling feeling that I should read the book first…
Unfortunately, however, I did stumble upon that episode of Riverdale. You know the one – the terrible rendition of the broadway musical? Sorry guys, but it was a flop.
So, as you could have guessed, I didn’t exactly have the best introduction to this novel. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Carrie is much less cliched than that horrible Riverdale episode made it out to be, and actually a pretty good novel.
Firstly, this novel is paced really well. As I mentioned in my review of Illuminae, I love it when authors get creative, and Stephen King certainly didn’t hold back. Actually, much like Illuminae, Carrie is told in multiple formats and kind of functions as report on an event. However, it also flits across the timeline, which was really effective. This book absolutely flew by and I was always eager to read on and to explore all of the different perspectives King presented us with.
Furthermore, I found the characters to be deliciously complex in their motivations. They were certainly three-dimensional and actually life-like, which is a stark contrast to the weak characters we are usually presented with in horror novels. I found them really engaging and interesting to follow, which really added to the conclusion – I didn’t know whether to be happy or sad, which honestly is one of my favourite types of endings.
On that note, however, we need to talk about the horror. This book wasn’t scary. At all. A little disturbing, perhaps, in parts – but not because of the actual horror element rather than the more life-like elements. This actually reminded me a lot of the style of the TV series, American Horror Story, wherein the truly horrifying moments are usually a product of human actions as opposed to supernatural elements – like the school shooting in season 1, or the twisted doctors and nuns in season 2. Carrie is much like this in its references to bullying, childhood neglect and fanatic religion.
But if you’re looking for a scary, thrilling novel, this isn’t it.
Because this isn’t your typical horror story. It has much more life to it – more of an underlying moral story and more of a conscience. King himself even claimed this book was an allegory for feminism, which is a whole other discussion in itself, but it makes sense. This isn’t just a mindless horror story. It has a sort of scientific explanation behind it, as if this really is something that could happen. It has contrasting and conflicting characters and is told in a really engaging manner – one that makes you think.
That being said, I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t completely gripped. I wasn’t clutching my childhood toys to my chest in a sleepless nights, haunted by what I was reading. This kind of defeated my expectations that King’s writing is creepy, terrifying and chilling. I wasn’t creeped-out, terrified or chilled. Just entertained for a while…
If you’re a fan of Stephen King’s books, please let me know in the comments which of his books I should read next!