Monday, 6 December 2010
Carrie by Stephen King has to be the most terrifying horror novel I have ever read. No, I didn't read this at night, under the cover of my duvets with a torch, listening to the silent house around me. Well, I did, but that's not why it's scary.
Let me pose a question you, dear reader: have you ever known someone who has been picked on? Of course, we're all bullied or made fun of at some point on our jolly course of life, but have you ever known someone who has been picked on so much that they seem to be the target of every prank? Have you ever known someone who's been jeered and scorned at simply for being different from everyone else? Not just a little bit different, but weird different. Has that person endured such horrid things like having their heads stuck down toilets, been tripped up in the corridor, the "Kick Me" sign on their back or the piece of gum on thier cheek? Have you ever done something to that person, something that makes you feel secretly guilty, like laugh at a mean joke directed towards them?
Nope, me neither.
But if you do know someone like that (school, work, whatever), you will immediately recognise Carrie (the titular protagonist) as being the laughing stock of not just her school, but her whole town. Daughter of an abusive, religious extremist who doesn't even tell her what a period is, Carrie suffers so much torment she eventually develops the supernatural talent of telekinesis (I surely don't need to remind anyone what that is). One day, she's invited to the school prom out of pity. She's delighted, of course. Little does she know that a humlitating prank is waiting for her there. This prank pushes her over the edge. And all hell breaks loose...
*gulp* She's gonna make us hurt, ain't she?
This novel is exceptional in so many ways. First of all, most debut novels normally feature a protagonist the same sex as the author. You know, cos it's easier that way. :P Carrie, as a female protagonist, was not only written well but whilst reading it, I was seriously convinced she was written by a woman. Only partly though. It still has King's style, which gives it away but is nonetheless very impressive. Or maybe his wife wrote it for him. I dunno...
Second, the idea of a regulary teased individual being driven over the edge is not farfetched. That's what makes it so frightening. Sure, the telekinesis is unlikely. But anyone can get hold of a weapon of some kind. Makes you think, doesn't it? And this has happened before. So you better think twice before you join in on a prank being played on somone who's treated like poo by all their peers.
And third, the build-up to the climax is perfect. It is so well done that when it comes, you're like "yeah, I knew it was coming but sh*t, I didn't expect that!" The pieces and clues are put together in the narrative almost in a scrap-book sort of way, making it seem almost like it really did happen. This, all the more, makes it creepier.
The character psychology is also pretty damn decent. You understand why they do what they do, making you feel a fiery hatred or an extreme pity towards them. Surprisingly, none of the characters, despite being in a typical American "high school" setting, weren't the normal stereotypes you'd expect to find. Except maybe Christine, who's the typical spoilt princess/cheerleader/shallow type of girl you'd just love to stab with a very... blunt... spoon...
"MY DADDY'S A LAWYER!! I'M GONNA SUE YOU SH*TLESS!! I WANNA A PONY!! GIVE ME A PONY, NOW!!"
Okay, maybe she's a bit old for ponies, but still, pretty stenciled if you ask me.
Other than that, I have no solid criticisms. Some people complain (I think they do anyway) that the book is too short, whilst works like It and The Shining are longer and therefore better. Bullcrap! The book's length is perfect. If it was any longer, the story would've dragged. Remember kids: quality not quantity.
Overall, Carrie is a chilling read and a deserves a very solid: