Every year in October my sister and I pick a book (or two) and do a buddy read. The last few years we have read a classic (Frankenstein which we both couldn’t finish) and then last year we read Stephen King’s novel, The Shining.
This year we talked about reading something else but King and ultimately settled on Carrie because it was one of his shorter works and it was his very first novel to be picked up by a publisher.
My book club also selected this one as our October read for many of the same reasons so it was nice to have a couple of opportunities to discuss this one.
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 (summary from Goodreads)
Full disclosure, I have never seen the original Carrie film or even the remake. I really had limited knowledge of this one going in. This was a book I should have flown through as it is just under 250 pages but for some reason, it seemed to take me forever to finish it. Not the entire month but almost 2 full weeks which is unusual for me.
I have struggled with King’s novels before. I couldn’t bring myself to finish The Gunslinger and The Shining was good but I had a hard time with some of his story tell mechanics. For example the excessive use of parentheses and internal asides by characters.
This book also had a lot of parentheses and internal asides that were at times distracting and frustrating for me as a reader. The way the ‘chapters’ were broken up were also difficult to track at times. There were a lot of reports from the White Report that were meant to fill in blanks for readers in the larger story and while I generally like that style of storytelling, there were times when those transitions felt clunky.
There is no denying that King is a master of the horror genre and this book could easily be considered groundbreaking and innovated, especially in the 1970s. But much of this book is now dated and not as ‘new’ feeling as some other books out there but overall it is still a relevant and unique book for sure.
At the end of the day, I just didn’t love this one. I mean it was ok and yes there was a lot to appreciate about the characters and the idea of telekenetics but there was just something about it that I just didn’t love. Carrie felt one dimensional to me and while I felt so bad for her with all the bullying, I just didn’t connect with her at all. All of the other characters in turn felt flat and I was unable to connect with them in any way. I hated Chris and her boyfriend but only on principal rather than actual feeling for their characters if that makes sense.
While this is a classic in the horror genera and it had its own merits, I just didn’t love it in the way that I had hoped. There is just something about Stephen King that I am not in love with as a writer. I don’t quite know what it is but there is just something I am not connecting with but with that said, I am going to keep trying his books because he is such a celebrated author and I want to give his books my best shot and then make a determination on if I will continue reading them or not.
Book Info and Rating
Paperback, 242 pages
Published 2007 by Hodder & Stoughton (first published April 5th 1974)
ISBN0340951419 (ISBN13: 9780340951415)
Review copy provided by personal collection. All opinions are my own and in no way influenced.
Rating: 2 stars