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on 22 October 2016
For any Stephen King fan, Carrie is a fabulous book to see where the work started. It truly is a great piece of work leaving you in no doubt as to why he is the household name that he now is.

The story flickers between the events playing out in the town and paper/journal articles looking back on the events. The story follows Carrie, a teenager dealing with not just the difficulties of adolescent life but also the problems of having psychic abilities. With a rather troublesome home life and a school environment which is not much better, Carrie’s psychic abilities soon start to grow and cause real troubles for the town. Through the book we follow the destruction that surrounds Carrie and those who happened to make her life much harder to deal with than it could have been.

A fast moving story which is short in comparison to some of his later books, Carrie really is a great read whether you’re a new or old Stephen King fan. If you’ve never picked up a Stephen King fan then I see no reason for you not to begin with his first book. Honestly, it will leave you gripped from start to end!
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on 13 June 2015
Stephen King is one of the most recommended and loved horror novelists, until now I’d only seen two films based on King’s work, so as my first introduction to Stephen King’s novels I selected Carrie.

The first thing that hit me when I started reading Carrie was curiosity as to how similar the novel and film would be. But I quickly forgot about any kind of comparison; as the novel quickly had me engrossed in the narrative and compelled to keep reading right until the very end.

The format of Carrie threw me at first, written from numerous perspectives, jumping between different time frames and interjections written in note format throughout- it certainly wasn’t your typical novel style, and not what I expected. Once passed the first few chapters I had gotten used to the flow of novel- I found the trick was to simply read it, not try to analyse it, not trying to remember what happened next in the film, and not trying to make the flow of events or how they are dictated; fit to any other written style.

I had high expectations for King’s narrative style, his reputation would not be what it is if he couldn’t deliver- and I was not disappointed. His attitude to Carrie’s story is extremely sympathetic, and his true skill in manipulating the reader really shines when by the end of the book it’s still Carrie White that the reader feels sorry for; despite all the death she causes.

Admittedly knowing the ending of the book was slightly disappointing but, reading the run up of events, finding out about Carrie’s history with her mother (much more than you get from the film) was very entertaining, it kept the novel grounded in a recognisable reality, despite its paranormal plot.
Carrie herself is a character which many readers would understand on some level, sharing some of her experiences and emotions and having that connection to the main character is what makes this novel more terrifying- the idea that perhaps you, the reader, could be as destructive a force as Carrie would make you think twice.

Overall Carrie was an enjoyable read, it may not have left me with nightmares but I’m certainly not complaining. The plot was gripping the twists were engaging and for the most part the characters were realistic and believable. If you’re considering trying King’s work I would recommend Carrie as the novel for dipping your toe into the horror genre.
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on 17 January 2015
Carrie White is just a teenaged girl like any other, strip her of her telekenetic abilities and she's a young, immature, innocent girl in more ways than one. She is raised in fear by her overly religious single mother, her father died when she was young. Carrie is the subject of psychological and emotional torture right throughout her years in school, Steven King penned this debut novel so masterfully you cant help but identify with Carrie's pain. The horrible things this young girl went through just move you in inexplicable ways. King dazzled readers with this lethal thriller.

Carrie believes her life was taken a turn for a magnificent change when Tommy, pretty-boy popular boy asks her to the prom but God forbids her mother to let her go, through rebelling Carrie goes to prom. Throughout the book we keenly obeserved strange occurences surroudning Carrie White in times on intense emotional pressure or stress, when she breaks psychologically, her powers, her psychic ablities, powers to do things in this physical realm with her will alone becomes uncontrollable, but Carrie thinks all would be well, its just prom right?

No it wasnt, Chris, a young girl in Carrie's class and a character you cant help but hate comes up with a plot to publicly disgrace Carrie at prom night. The nail-biting suspense, all the chills and thrills reaches its climax in this scene, pigs blood is poured unto Carrie and she breaks, there was only so much this young girl could take. Carrie then unleashes a terrible display of her latent abilities on the towns folk and the prom turns into a bloody masscre, forever etched in history as one of the hallmark massacres in novels and one of King's most finest.

The novel has been adapted for film adaptation several times and King himself as several editions of this book, this international bestselling book is one of the best books of all time.
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on 1 March 2015
I got the book some time after seeing the film (original version). I have had the book for many years now, but still go back to it from time to time, even though I prefer the film. Once I got used to the writing style, I could follow it quite comfortably, even though it makes for sad and grim reading. In many ways, I can relate to Carrie so well and it was good to see her character develop as the story progressed and her talent became more powerful and ultimately destructive. It is dark and original, although I think most of us know the story so I won't do a synopsis like I do for many other book reviews. One thing that I felt was a slight let-down was the ending, think that could have been dealt with slightly differently, but even 40+ years after its original release, this story is still haunting and powerful. Prior to reading this the first time, I had not been a person who was happy to read books that involved graphic descriptions of blood and terror and now I am OK with reading other horror stories and I now call the thriller genre my favourite type of story, so I suppose I have a lot to thank this book for despite some misgivings, for showing me that it is OK to step out of my perceived comfort zone.
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on 16 April 2015
The debut that launched Stephen King, in the 1970s, is still as brilliant and rich as it was back then, showing no signs of aging or faltering. Cleverly written through a number of different mediums (whether it be first-person-narration of the characters as the tale takes place, or interviews with people who survived the incident, or scientific journals analyzing the events long after), it's all very tight, very dark, and very (very) edgy. The characters are, indeed, very real, and King explores themes society generally tries to ignore, especially those of the outsider not fitting in, victimized as a result (in this case, to disastrous effects). It's one of those books that leaves you enthralled, shocked, gasping, and energized by the end (especially with the pacing of the narration), and your heart really goes out to Carrie, who simply just wants to feel acceptance and love - which, unfortunately, never really arrives. A very good film, by Brian De Palma, was made in the 70s, though the book is far superior. This is well worthy of being on any avid reader's reading-list.
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on 19 April 2014
“Nobody was really surprised when it happened, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow.”

“Carrie” is a deceptively simple novel, told in an epistolary format that takes in accounts from academic textbooks, a commision report and Sue Snell’s autobigraphy (“My Name Is Sue Snell”, published in 1986) and set in the then near-future of 1979 (though I couldn’t work out why). There are no chapter breaks but the book is broken into three parts.
Part 1 – Blood Sport opens on Carrietta White, who has lived her life abused not only at home (by her unstable, religious zealot mother Margaret) but also by virtually everyone she comes into contact with, from classmates, to passers-by and teachers. Carrie is 16 and, to everyone’s disbelief, is experiencing her first period, which terrifies her. Not quite understanding why, her classmates taunt and jeer at her, throwing tampons and sanitary towels at her (“Plug it up, plug it up!”) to cover their own disgust. Her teacher, Miss Desjardins (perhaps the most sympathetic adult in the book), tries to help but Carrie is sent home where her mother beats her, locking her away to pray for forgiveness. But the start of menstruation seems to have also unlocked a latent talent in Carrie (which she has been able to harness, briefly, in the past) for Telekinesis. As her classmates are put into detention, one of them - a bully called Chris Hargensen - plots revenge and the course of the story is set in that one moment, with everything afterwards leading inexorably to destruction.
Sue Snell, another classmate who was involved in yelling “Plug it up!” feels terrible about the incident and asks her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom. And this act of simple friendship and making amends, seals their fate.
Part 2 - Prom Night. Chris and her greaser boyfriend Billy Nolan go to a local farm and kill two pigs, collecting their blood and placing it in buckets over the stage. They rig the vote for Carrie and Tommy to win “Prom King & Queen” and as they sit on their thrones, all hell literally breaks loose.
Part 3 - Wreckage, follows the devastation that comes to the town once Carrie has left the Prom. I won’t give away what happens but since the ending is alluded to through the course of the book, it’s safe to say that Carrie makes her feelings of injustice felt and no-one is safe.
King himself has commented that he finds the book to be "raw" and "with a surprising power to hurt and horrify” and I’d agree, it’s a harsh novel that looks at high school life with an eye for the viciousness that’s present in everyone (King was teaching at the time, so we can assume he was writing what he saw). He paints the outsider well, the desperate need to close in on yourself as the world gathers around you, joking and taunting and life seems full of things that you don’t quite understand.
Sue Snell is essentially good and does what she does for the right reasons, though she pays the price of losing her boyfriend and his unborn child. Tommy is a good kid, a jock with heart who isn’t actually hurt by Carrie though I found it troubling that she spent the last part of the novel thinking that he’d set her up. The real horror, though, is in the characters of Chris and Billy. She is very manipulative, using sex to get what she wants but in Nolan she’s finally met her match, since he’s not one of the frat boys who will roll over and do everything she wants him to. In fact, I think he’s the real monster of the story and his casual violence is key to that. On nights when his Mum and her latest boyfriend are arguing, he takes off cruising for stray dogs, later putting his car away with “its front bumper dripping”.
But everything, of course, centres around Carrie. In my minds eye she looks, obviously, like Sissy Spacek but that’s not the picture King paints. His Carrie is “a chunky girl with pimples on her neck and back and buttocks, her (wet) hair completely without colour. She looked the part of the sacrificial goat, the constant butt” and at one point, she “looked around bovinely”. She wants to get on with her life and fit in, she craves for me and tries to be rebellious but nothing ever really seems to work. Her menstruation not only brings her powers to a level she can control, it also opens the world up to her a little more, even if it’s just teasing glimpses. She feels stronger, she takes a stand with her mother but part of the novels cruelty is that she never quite achieves what she wants to. It changes her though and other characters, as well as the reader, sees this. When Tommy asks her out, she seems different and he can’t quite work it out and when he goes to pick her up (in a beautifully written moment), she seems comfortable in her own body for once.
Margaret White looms over the whole book, cruelly abusive and living in fear of God in a house chock full of gruesome religious imagery. Adding to the overall feel of unease are little throwaway moments that impact heavily, from Margaret’s actions to Billy Nolan and his dripping bumper. There’s also a quick line about a character seeing a drunk in New York, saddled with a goitre who is leading away by the hand a little girl with a bloody nose and I found that image heartbreaking.
King is quoted as saying of the book “it reminds me of a cookie baked by a first grader — tasty enough, but kind of lumpy and burned on the bottom." As a seasoned horror reader, coming to this fresh, I would say that it’s a pretty damned good cookie.
Strikingly well written, with a wonderfully tight plot that runs like clockwork as the pieces fall into place, this is a terrific read that I wish I hadn’t waited forty years to get to. Very highly recommended.
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on 7 April 2014
This was the book that first made Stephen King's name, in the early 70s. It still has a massive emotional charge 40 years later.

As is often the case with King, the supernatural element of the book (which is that a pubescent girl can, with the power of telekinesis, make things and people move to her command) becomes almost just one element of a bigger picture, of a horribly abused and bullied girl, feeling herself friendless and alone, who discovers the means to wreak a huge, terrifying revenge.

The girl is Carrie White, a child born to extreme fundamentalist parents, whose childhood becomes distorted and ruined by her parents hatred of sexuality. Things come to a head when Carrie reaches puberty. She's bullied at school and, simultaneously, finds her nascent telekinesis become irresistible.

With the best of intentions, a boy in her class invites her to prom night (never a good idea in a horror book!), and things get nasty. Very nasty.

The structure of the book is very effective - a cut and paste collage of straight narrative interspersed with paragraphs from the special investigation set up by the government in the aftermath of the White manifestation, eyewitness accounts and extracts from a book subsequently written by one of her classmates. I found this very effective; the pace of the book (250 pages) is headlong, and is relentlessly gripping. It's a tribute to King that so early in his career he felt the confidence to practically spell out the ending in the first few pages of the book, and to trust his storytelling to keep the reader on the hook right to the end.

Despite the horror of what Carrie does, you can't but feel sympathy with her, and share her exultation at her awful revenge. This is a brilliant book.
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on 7 July 2016
Man, this book is so, so good. Amazingly, this is the first horror I've read by Stephen King. Why, oh why did I wait this long? Seen both movies, enjoyed them both, but this book beats 'em hands down. It just gives you so much more. Multiple perspectives, excerpts from books written about the Chamberlain event (Carrie's rampage), transcripts of the AP live coverage and the White Commission, shifting timeframes – it makes it feel that much more real.

The destruction Carrie wreaks on the town is truly apocalyptic. King gives away major plot points before they happen, but instead of detracting from the story, it adds an edge of tragic inevitability that adds suspense to the scenes where Carrie is finally experiencing happiness. It's brutal.

Other than the largely unnecessary final few pages, and the overuse of the word “redolent,” this book is more or less flawless.
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on 20 November 2014
Can there be anyone over 25 who’s either not read the book or not seen the film (or the recent remake)? Surely not.

I re-read Carrie as part of a shared online project to re-read every King book over the next year or two. I first read it back in 1984, but even that was a few years after having seen the movie.

There’s no point covering the plot but is it worth re-reading? In a nutshell, no, not really. It’s a short book, and the movie covered nearly everything anyway.

I was a little worried it might be showing signs of age, as it’s now 40 years old, but this was not the case. The trope of the US High School prom gone wrong is embedded in the Western psyche now – and it’s almost ageless.

If you’ve never read any King, and you’ve not seen the movie, then this is as good a place to start as any. If you’ve seen the movie, the book adds very little. If you’ve read the book already, there’s really no need to give it another whirl.

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on 15 December 2014
A small town is brought to it's knees. A statue of the crucifixion hangs on a wall. A bucket of pigs blood falls from the ceiling and covers the Prom Queen. It could only be Stephen King.

Here is where I stand on this one. I'm a life long fan of the Master of Horror but I've never quite got round to reading this one until now. It's such an iconic book and it probably comes to the mind of anybody when they hear Stephen King's name mentioned. I remember watching the film when I was about 14 and being mesmerised and infatuated by Sissy Spacek. King fans like myself have a lot to thank this book for. It was his first published book and maybe if it wasn't for Carrie we would never have had such a collection of fantastic books.

However putting aside my fan loyalty I have to say that this is one of his weaker books. It was written at a time when Stephen King was still developing his style and voice and it is pretty average. There are flashes of genius in there but the writing isn't up there with his best works. It's scary and twisty and warped but he has written far superior books. Iconic but not my favourite.
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