Book Review: Carrie by Stephen King

A little bit late so I apologise but it is finally time to discuss the end of the Carrie Saga with the novel which started it all, the book was released in 1974 and was the first published story by Horror writer Stephen King, it sold tremendously well after the first movie adaptation in 1976 and is known to be one of the most banned books in schools due to its violence, underage sex and the use of fowl language and drug use. I will also point out here the use of racism which would be frowned upon today I wont say what the racism was but its context was used to describe how fat someone’s lip was after being punched so you can figure that one out for yourselves!. Times were different when the book was written so while it its still isn’t right we wont be criticising King or the publishers over it.

We are comparing this to the adaptations I have reviewed so there will be heavy spoilers !

Carrie White is a very unfortunate person, she is overweight, covered in spots and is bullied relentlessly by the other girls in her school, in a very famous scene she has her first period (very late) and freaks out while naked in the girls locker room, Chris Hargensen the schools Queen Bee gets all of the other girls to join her in mocking Carrie “Plug it up” they all shout as they begin to pelt the poor child with female sanitary products laughing and cruelly mocking her before they are stopped by the Gym Teacher Miss Desjardin.

This bullying is an everyday occurrence for Carrie and she never gets a break after school she has to face her over religious mother Margaret White who forces her to pray and abuses her power by locking Carrie in a cupboard when she thinks she has sinned, the period is one of these moments as her mother believes that she has turned away from God and committed sexual acts, tasting the forbidden fruit similar to the story of Adam and Eve.

The relentless bullying and abuse causes Carrie to become emotionally distraught eventually leading her to discover a Telekinetic ability she has had passed down from her father, her mother knew about her powers from birth and resents Carrie as she believes she is a curse from God after she committed adultery by having sex before marriage.

Margaret Whites character is given some backstory in the book being outcast by her family due to her intense religious views, she is also described as much older in the book and as we have discussed previously is killed by Carrie stopping her heart. The way this particular murder is written is actually quite creepy with Carrie whispering that she will send her to the darkness to be judged by whatever God she finds there.

Carries powers are explored in more detail in the book including a scene where as a little girl she causes giant rocks to fall from the sky destroying her family home, this was shown in the 2002 TV movie as well which I will give that adaptation some credit for even though I really didn’t enjoy it.

Speaking of characters I wasn’t huge on Sue Snell in the book, there isn’t many differences between her role in the films and the book but in the novel she is definitely a little bit more self-centered and while she is the only girl to feel bad about how she treated Carrie there is definitely a vibe that she only sent Tommy to take Carrie to prom to ease her guilt more than to make Carrie feel less like an outcast.

The prom massacre in this is actually quite quick and a little disappointing considering that she kills almost everyone by electrocution and finishing off the remaining few by setting the building on fire.

Chris Hargensen and Billy’s death is much more satisfying in this similar to the 2013 film the car is lifted from the ground and flung into a building (the road house hotel) and blown to smithereens, both characters in the book are pure evil Billy is a real bastard who beats Chris and even tries to rape her at one point, Chris is known to be quite the psychopathic bully and not only to Carrie, it is mentioned in the book that she once hid a fire cracker in another students show blowing off two of her toes and she only got out of any legal trouble thanks to her fathers position as a very well respected lawyer.

Chris and Billy actually fill two buckets with blood in the book and one is meant for Tommy Ross who neither have any problems with so they only really did this for no reason at all just going to further show how neither of them care for anyone and are just very sickening individuals.

The books ending sees Sue Snell finding Carrie White dying and she holds Carrie in her arms as she takes her final breath, I really liked that the book continued after this to show how the events affected the town having a lot of the store owners taking out insurance claims to give up their shops and the local bar becoming quiet as the town folks are all shaken up after the events of the massacre.

The book also uses a lot of character interviews through police investigations which was a nice touch and it also has chapters from the perspective of other characters such as Sue and Chris.

I really enjoyed this book and struggled to put it down, it is a very easy read due to Kings writing style and how he doesn’t focus on many unnecessary elements, he is telling the story of the events of Prom Night and does an excellent job of documenting this while keeping readers engaged and wanting more.

I have come to the conclusion that the closest adaptation is the 2002 TV movie, it has the most parts from the book but doesn’t offer too much more compared to the 2013 film and we all know which of those I would recommend.

The original 1976 film is still the best way to watch Carrie which is odd because compared to all three movies and the musical it is actually the least accurate with its story telling, my recommendation would definitely be to read the book as it is very good and then watch the 1976 version as that holds up very well on its own and is genuinely an excellent Horror Movie.

I am very eager for some more Stephen King so the next book I will be reviewing is his second novel Salem’s Lot so please look forward to that.

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