Book Review – Carrie by Stephen King

★★★★ 3.5 Stars

Genre: Horror / Fiction
Publication Date: April 5th, 1974
Publisher: Doubleday

“The low bird is not picked tenderly out of the dust by its fellows; rather, it is dispatched quickly and without mercy.”

You know Carrie. I know Carrie. Carrie has had enough of being the weakling bird, so she becomes the phoenix, out of blood rather than ashes.

There are many others before me who have had the chance to say it better, but if it isn’t a powerful allegory for cruelty towards young women, I don’t know what is. Zealotry and fundamentalism throwing punches with one hand as Carrie’s mother, and peers throwing punches with the other. I can’t blame her for her miniature apocalypse.
What’s so grotesque is that Carrie’s classmates have all gone through the same period. Surely some were at embarrassing times, surely. But yet they are so merciless to her as to treat her like a circus freak.

Coming from someone who’s recently left that weird, enclosed world – the godawful, always unspoken dynamic that seemed to go on in school, it never changes. All so important at the time but seems so pointless when you leave. There’s always someone it was worse for, that you wonder about.

The prose is pretty straightforward but yet you can feel Carrie’s humiliation tangibly, her dread and anger. She’s not alone in being a tragedy, though. Most of the female characters when alone and at most candid, have something horrible driving them – Sue’s misfired attempt to help Carrie that causes her stigma and trauma for years, Chris’s abusive boyfriend combined with her petty need for revenge. You could even call Carrie’s mother tragic – there’s something disturbed churning in the head of anyone who behaves like that thinking it’s pious, but the reader’s never sure what it is. She never wanted poor Carrie, that much is obvious.

Carrie is not in my opinion, Stephen King’s best novel. There are rough edges and the format kind of spoils its own plot. Worth reading of course, but has more of a human tragedy feel than a “scary” atmosphere. I have a huge admiration for Carrie anyway because it brought light to so much other fiction of the time wouldn’t touch. Typical horror, being the brave genre knowing no one will give it the credit it deserves.

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