Whenever I am asked what genre I prefer my mind instantly flits to horror and I say so, whilst thinking of Lovecraft’s The Rats in the Walls, or Poe’s The Raven, or Susan Hill’s The Small Hand. My questioner looks at me, the inevitable question approaching and I prepare myself for bookish embarrassment; “So you read Stephen King?” No. Not deliberately, his work was just never marked as a necessity on my reading list. I have seen glimpses of the odd film and know vaguely of the plots to some of his books but nothing other than that. I finally changed that this week when I picked up Carrie, but can I say King has truly lived up to his popularity?
This book was not my first choice to start with, having heard quite negative things, but nevertheless I thought I should at least try. It follows an unpopular girl, Carrie White, who has telekinesis, a rare genetic ability which enables her to manipulate the world around her with her mind. She is brought up by her strict, religious mother, Margaret White, who abuses Carrie until she is unable to take anymore. The book both follows both Carrie’s story and includes newspaper cuttings, the point of view of others, etc. which hint or even give away the plot. I found this exciting at first, but as the story progressed, the event of prom drawing closer, I felt as though less could have been included and the suspense would have still been there. The reader knows quite early on what happens to Carrie, but I would have liked to follow the story a little more without knowing the plot beforehand.
I have to also say I was deeply disturbed by this book, not by the plot or the characters, but of the numerous typos. There was a point at which I stared at the same sentence for a while wondering whether it was deliberate or not (in some cases, it is deliberate), but then I came across a phrase “so domething” and I came to the conclusion that many of the vast amount of typos and misspellings were not deliberate and thus even more disturbing. This may have been the copy I had, but for such a well-known book, should it be an issue?
I enjoy it when authors create characters you can really loath and Margaret White is certainly one of those. Early on in the book we are given a glimpse of Carrie as a young child, the opposite of her lonely older self. The mother is responsible for Carrie’s sad adolescence, using her faith to justify what was obvious child abuse. Margaret often locks her child in the closet if she judges something, such as being female, to be wrong. King does an excellent job of creating a character which is fun to hate so that we (or at least I am) are rooting Carrie to retaliate.
I also enjoyed the ending. Through the hints of the various newspaper article it is somewhat predictable, but I still liked it. Unfortunately, I cannot say too much on the subject, being that the release of spoilers is a crime which causes people to act in a Carrie-after-prom-like way.
Being my first King book though, I did enjoy it, more than I thought I would given the negative reviews. I suppose due to the fact that I have not read any other of King’s books to compare it too, I did not judge it too hard and I will certainly make sure to read more by King in future.