Monday, 19 October 2015

Review | Carrie by Stephen King

by Stephen King

My Rating: 

Carrie White is no ordinary girl.
Carrie White has the gift of telekinesis.
To be invited to Prom Night by Tommy Ross is a dream come true for Carrie - the first step towards social acceptance by her high school colleagues.
But events will take a decidedly macabre turn on that horrifying and endless night as she is forced to exercise her terrible gift on the town that mocks and loathes her...

This is a very frustrating book.

Throughout October I'm trying to read as many spooky books as I can, so I figured now was as good a time as any to cross Carrie off my TBR. It's only a little book, after all, and it was King's debut novel, so I was interested in reading the book that began his impressive career.

It's no secret that I'm not a big Stephen King fan. I think the guy's pretty amazing - he's one of those authors who's really managed to make a career out of writing - but I don't get on with his writing style. The only book of his I'd previously read and enjoyed, and actually managed to finish, is Misery, but other than that he and I just don't gel. That being said, I'd been wanting to read Carrie for a while; Carrie is the prom night gone wrong kind of horror story. Not only that, but I was eager to read a story by King where the main character isn't a male writer. He has a lot of those.

I didn't go into it with high hopes, so you can imagine my surprise when I found myself enjoying it. The story is pretty straightforward - it's probably the most linear of King's novels not that I'm an expert - but I liked it. I loved the themes of religion with Carrie's insanely devout mother, and the connection between puberty and the realisation of Carrie's previously latent telekinetic powers. It's twisted, but I wanted to see Carrie's fellow students punished because, let's face it, they all treat her diabolically. By the time they've learned to fear her - respect her - it's far too late to make amends.

I really enjoyed the way the book was set out, too. It alternates between the actual story - we see Carrie, her mother, her teachers, the other pupils - and then several non-fiction books within the book that are talking about Prom Night. There's one book all about telekinesis which talks about Carrie's past and the genetic aspects to the ability, and another which is an autobiography of one of Carrie's classmates who survived. There were times when I found the 'non-fiction' more interesting than the story because I liked the way King tried to find a scientific explanation for telekinesis.

Then the second half of the novel happened, and everything I'd liked about the first half just unravelled. It's only about halfway through the book that Prom Night happens - it literally says: 'Part Two: Prom Night' - so I assumed that the majority of the latter half of the novel was going to be Carrie wreaking her revenge on the entire town, and in a way it was, but it didn't feel quite as tight as the first half. King wrote about a lot of the events in hindsight, writing about police reports and witness testimonies, and I thought the scene in which Carrie killed the people who'd pulled the final prank - coating her in pig's blood - was very weak, and not written all that clearly. I was hoping the rest of the book would be formatted like the first, with the odd bit of 'non-fiction' but mostly Carrie destroying the town and everybody in it. Instead, it was rather underwhelming.

I didn't dislike the book, but I didn't love it either which is a real shame because I think I could have if bits of it were a little neater or a little tighter or a little better. It's a story with a lot of potential, but, for me, that potential wasn't realised.

I did enjoy it, though, and I think it's a good read for this time of year. I'd like to check out the 2013 adaptation with Chloë Grace Moretz and Julianne Moore soon!


  1. I've never read anything by King, I'm quite frankly a chicken, but I didn't realize Carrie was his debut! I have seen the older movie version on TV (the best way to watch scary movies because they edit out all of the really gory or scary parts usually) and I thought it was decent. The format of this book sounds really interesting, and I think if I was to pick up a King, this would be one of the contenders.
    Great review Jess!

    1. Thanks, Mallory. :) If you'd like to give him a try, I do recommend either picking up this one or Misery, although I'm sure there are some real Stephen King buffs out there with much better knowledge than me!

  2. I get you when it comes to King's writing style. I'm sure he's great and everything, but I've only enjoyed like one of his books and that was Mr. Mercedes. The rest, I've tried but I somehow tune them out - like it enters one ear, but instead of staying in my brain, it goes out the other ear. Haha! In any case, I'm curious how the book's like. It's too bad that the book's not tight as a whole. I actually hate it when a book is all over the place as it gets me pretty frustrated (I like linear stories most of the time, but King's non-linearity just doesn't work with me).

    Faye at The Social Potato

  3. I remembered you mentioning that you didn't usually get on with King, so I was curious to see how you'd make out with Carrie - especially since you had luck with Misery. As I was reading through the first part of your review, I was glad that you'd seemed to make out ok, but alas, it was only for the first half of the book! >.< I'm sorry that the climax just didn't deliver like it ought to. I'm familiar with King myself, but I've never read any of his books (I'm sort of a wimp when it comes to scary books) and I guess a part of me worries that I might not get on with his style either. Anyways, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us Jess^^ xx