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CR3 #61: Carrie by Stephen King (King REreview #3)

(Sorry people -- I've been reading just as much lately, but work has been sort of horrifying, and when combined with this ridiculous heat wave, it doesn't do a whole lot for my motivation to accomplish...anything at all, really [well, except maybe eat popsicles and drink mojitos, but neither of those things exactly counts as productivity]. I have a couple reviews to write, but I'm hoping they'll get done in the next couple days.)

Carrie is the first Stephen King book I ever read. As I share a name with the protagonist, I figured I might as well read the damn thing so I would at least get the allusions people made to the novel. Therefore, at 13, I walked into the local library and hunted down the Stephen King section, which at the time was entirely made up of paper backs crammed into one tall rotating rack. I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The story concerns Carrie White, a teenager living in Maine. She is neither attractive nor particularly bright, and due to her upbringing by a religious fanatic mother, her social skills are also nothing special. She has spent most of her life as the butt of every joke, tortured by her classmates and ignored by almost everyone else. The one thing Carrie has going for her--as she discovers one day during gym class--is a latent talent for telekinesis. Several stories--including that of Carrie, her classmate Sue, antagonist Chris, and the rest of the town--are entwined, coming together in a final explosive confrontation.

The story is probably familiar, as it's become a part of popular culture due to the film version with Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie. However, the book is definitely worth reading. It's set up as an epistolary novel, combining news clippings, "witness testimony," and "scientific papers" as well as sections from the characters' points of view. In style, it has a lot in common with Dracula, which King has often mentioned as a strong influence on his writing. The characters are compelling, and you definitely find yourself sympathizing with Carrie, even if you do what is going to happen in the end.

I highly recommend this--it's a quick read, free from King's usual ramblings and tangents (which, though I do enjoy them, can lead to bloat in some of his works). It's a good introduction to his style without the thousand page commitment.

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