Any One Book: Carrie by Stephen King

Ok, I have a bit of a confession to make…..I actually picked up Carrie and read it before I even announced it was the next Any One Book.

It was always my intention to have it as book of the month, but I was too intrigued and couldn’t hold off any more. So I thought I would leave it a while to actually post my review of it, otherwise the whole thing would have been over in a couple of days.

I didn’t know Carrie was King’s first published full-length novel until I read the introduction to the book. The difference in his writing style between Carrie and Misery was overwhelmingly evident, but it was still quite addictive. In fact, the introduction from him added to all that intrigue. He set it up rather well, for anyone who hasn’t read the introduction he spoke about two girls that he went to school with. One was bullied by the rest of her class, was pretty much an outcast. While King didn’t participate in the bullying he also didn’t do anything to stop it. The second was a young girl from a fanatically religious family. The first young girl killed herself and the second also sadly passed away. King stated that the image of these two girls from his past just wouldn’t leave him alone until they merged together to create the character of Carrie.

Now, getting to the actual book, the format of it is quite intriguing and compelling. The mixture of being at the actual events and having excerpts from books that were written about the events were very clever. It was a very good way of foreshadowing and letting the reader in on what was going to happen. It made things less shocking but at the same time a hint of reality was attached to story.

It was a bit slow to start, which doesn’t usually bother me because a gradual build up can be the reason a book is so amazing. However, when a novel is as short as Carrie, there isn’t much time to make up for the slowness. yet, there was still something that made it very addictive. I think it was the factual approach he took to it.

However, that gradual start made it very easy to sympathise with Carrie. She was treated horridly and nothing that happened to her was entirely deserved. She was bullied and belittled, and I think this is something that a lot of people can probably empathise with. However, that does put the reader in a very difficult position.

We’re not supposed to feel sorry for the people who do bad things, and in a sense that remains true. I didn’t feel sorry for Chris or Billy who were responsible for all the chaos that ensued, or even for Carrie’s mother who put her daughter at such a disadvantage in life. But I did feel sorry for Carrie.

She caused the most damage and a lot of people died and lives were affected, but all the while my sympathy never wavered. In a world of black and white she is the bad guy, but when grey seeps into it she’s really not. She was like a wild animal backed into a corner and she finally lashed out. Unfortunately it just so happened that she had telekinetic powers.

I think the saddest thing about it was that overall, it was a misunderstanding. The incident in the shower room not only humiliated Carrie, but finally allowed a few of her classmates to realise how terribly they had acted. One classmate felt such guilt that she wanted to make things up for Carrie and asked her boyfriend to take Carrie the School dance in an attempt to make things better.

While the actual dance started out well for Carrie, the scheming of Chris and Billy meant that the night would turn into another humiliation for her and Carrie thought it had all been a trick.

I enjoyed the book thoroughly, but as I said before I didn’t think it was as good as Misery. Still, there’s something compelling about King’s writing that had me staying up late at night to finish the book. There’s also a huge complexity to the main character. While she was bullied and we, as the audience, would want justice done, the actual revenge does stick Carrie in the bad gut territory.

I’ve also realised that this book is on the Rory Gilmore Book Challenge list, which I started ages ago but haven’t really made a dent it. So, in order to start making that dent, the remaining Any One Book’s of the year will be coming from that list.

What about you, what did you think of the book?

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