Review: Carrie (By Stephen King)

Carrie Source: Goodreads

            Carrie
 Source: Goodreads

Length: 242 pages

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Carrie White is telekinetic. But, she can’t control her powers and neither does she want to. Until one fateful night when her humiliation, caused by her own peers, pushes her to the edge.

Carrie is a social pariah. Brought up by a fanatically religious mother, she has a personality that her high school mates deem unbecoming and repulsive. But then, nobody tried to even get to know her. All they did was use every available opportunity to ridicule her. And she bore every insult in silence, accepting it to be a way of life. But one day, they pushed it too far, one day they humiliated her until she couldn’t bear it. That was the event that set everything in motion. Even one student’s attempt at righting the wrong she’d committed by Carrie couldn’t change the inevitable. And when Carrie was humiliated yet again on Prom Night, the evening that could have been the beginning of her new life, she decides she’s had enough. But nobody, not even Carrie, could have estimated her real power, and the destruction it could bring.

My take:

That Prom Night was a night of terror induced by Carrie White is no surprise – it’s in the book blurb and is mentioned numerous times right from Page 1. What is surprising, though, is that the actual event still manages to sucker punch you when you finally reach it.The sheer magnitude of the event and the emotions that come with it are enough to make your stomach turn – just as you’d expect from Stephen King.

But that, of course, comes later.

Carrie begins with the event that sets everything else in motion. And it grabs a hold of you from the get-go. The book never lets you go, taking you on a roller-coaster of events and emotions. The book is written differently. On one hand, you have the story as it happened. And on the other, you have excerpts from reports, trials, and books that cover the Prom Night event and Carrie’s life. Both aspects go on simultaneously, with one giving you an insight into that which the second details. The multiple perspectives keep you guessing to the extent of what might really happen and also gives you a look into the many opinions and thoughts that went on, on that fateful evening and in its aftermath.

Another thing that many people may find refreshing is its short length. Carrie is surprisingly short for a Stephen King novel. And it doesn’t delve into details like many of his works do. That isn’t to say that it doesn’t go deep enough – it just doesn’t detail to the extent that many readers find cumbersome. It is a fast read and its relentless pace makes it seem even faster.

What is really striking about the book, though, is the emotion it carries. Right from the first paragraph, the book fills you with a strange sense of sadness coupled with horror. But then, that is what King does best. He can definitely scare you with stories of things that go bump in the night, but what he can terrify you with are stories of the horrors that live within human beings – people like you and I. One of the most grudgingly accepted facts of life is that there is evil in all of us, evil that can raise its head in the most unimaginably horrendous ways possible. In some people, like murderers, you see the evil plainly. But others spend their entire lifetimes being strangers to their own dark sides. Unless an opportunity calls for them to unleash it. And then, they embark on a course of destruction of which they might not even have considered themselves capable.

And I’m not referring to Carrie White when I say this.

Every character in Carrie, every plain and seemingly innocent person, allows themselves to be controlled by their negative desires when another is vulnerable. They unleash the blackness of their hearts and target their deeds at one who can’t retaliate. And they do it without regret or shame. The turmoil that fills many of them – their good nature against the evil unleashed by society – is evident. And yet, they can’t help but be cruel. That, I thought, was the scariest part – that ordinary people are capable of such terrible things that they do without thought or remorse.

Carrie shows you the evil that exists in every one of us. It forces you to question if you would have done anything different in that situation. And it compels you to consider how dark you really are. Stephen King effortlessly hits you hard with Carrie. You will be left with a strange sense of discomfort because it will make you realize that not only are you capable of bad things but that you can never be sure of just how far you may go. And lastly, who in Carrie was really the victim?

Stephen King fans will love Carrie, so if you haven’t read it yet, make it the next on your to-be-read list. It’s also a good book for those readers who claim that King’s work is too lengthy – it’s crisp, action-packed, and will have you turning the pages furiously. If you haven’t read any of King’s work because you’re someone who, like me, wasn’t too keen on being scared, give Carrie a shot and make it your first ever horror. It’s scary, but not the kind you’d expect, making it an excellent read from an author who knows a thing or two about the art of being terrifying.

– Rishika

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