Book Reviews

Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

Book Review: Carrie by Stephen KingBefore I start this Carrie book review, I’m going to point out it’s a book that nearly never was because Stephen King threw the manuscript in the trash. His wife Tabatha pulled it out and urged the author to continue. It’s a good job she did. Carrie is the novel that changed Stephen King’s life.

Carrie was the first Stephen King novel accepted for publication. It’s the story of social misfit Carietta White. Carrie’s father died before she was born and so she was brought up by her mother who is a fanatical Christian. It is fair to say that poor Carrie hasn’t had the most stable of home lives and, with pictures of the tortured and bleeding Jesus hanging from the walls, the White bungalow sounds like a place where Church meets House of Horrors.

Carrie’s mother, Margaret White, even has a special church-like cupboard to lock her daughter in whenever she feels Carrie has some sins that she needs to get down on her knees for and repent. So that is Carries home life. Not very good is it?

If anything, things are worse for Carrie when she is at school. She has no friends and seems to be the girl who is the brunt of every nasty trick her school-not-mates can come up with. There is something a little different about Carrie though. She was born with the gift of telekinesis. It’s a gift she is not aware of until she reaches a somewhat late puberty.  Carrie’s gift soon becomes a curse for those who have maltreated her.

Like a few of King’s later works, Carrie has no chapters and, as in those later books, the absence of chapters is never really missed.

A lot of Carrie’s story is presented to the reader in retrospect, in the form of excerpts from fictional documents like clippings from newspapers, transcripts from scientific papers and reports, and a book written by Sue Snell, who is one of the few people who survived ‘Prom Night’. Ironically if it was not for Sue Carrie would never have been at the prom in the first place.

Carrie is a great book, but there is a lot more to it than there first appears to be. You need to look a little deeper to see it though. King mentions a little about this in his non-fiction book Danse Macabre and the things he mentions would have gone right over my head had I not read that book too. Even if you miss the comments it makes on society etc., Carrie is still an incredible book to read.

One thing that I did notice, without any help from Danse Macabre, was how much hypocrisy there is with the Margaret White character. Here we have a woman who—Praise the Lord!—loves Jesus, yet finds it quite easy to justify the idea of murdering her own daughter. Where is ‘Turn the other cheek’, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers’ and most especially ‘THOU SHALT NOT KILL!’

As you read the book, you also learn Carrie’s father was a man who went to work with a bible in one hand and a gun in his lunch pail. Again: where is ‘THOU SHALT NOT KILL!’ It is an ironic fact that, in the real world, it is a golden rule of most religions that a person should not kill his fellow man, or woman, and yet how many wars are waged over religion? How many people have killed for their blessed religion? It’s mad! None of this really belongs in a Carrie book review, I suppose, but I mention it only to make the point that, if you do read Carrie (or re-read it) it is worth looking at what is, perhaps, being said underneath the story. The same thing can be said of lot of other books as well.