So, here’s the thing: I’ve never read anything by Stephen King. I’ve come to conclusion that you either LOVE Stephen King or you HATE Stephen King. It seems impossible to be indifferent. Yet now that I’ve read my first King novel, I honestly feel really ambivalent. I’m not sure if I’ll read anything else by him or not. Let’s dig into it:
The novel is spliced together with several narrative forms–testimony from a court case, sociological studies, an autobiography, and an omniscient third-person narrator that brings the action from several vantage points–to relate the mass-killing of a sleepy Maine town on prom night in 1979. The killer is Carrie White, a troubled, unpopular high school senior with telekinetic abilities, who has been deeply repressed by her religiously fanatical mother and becomes the butt of many practical jokes at school. The novel opens when Carrie gets her first period in the shower and becomes the victim of seriously cruel bullying by the girls in her gym class. The scene is harrowing, her anguish and ignorance even more so, and her mother’s cruelty breathtaking. Here’s where King shines: he takes an idea and expands on it, revealing the subtle horrors of a simple idea.
Carrie’s humiliation at prom leads her to snap, and she exerts her fullest telekinetic powers on her high school and the town itself, creating a jumble of chaos and confusion in the town–and in the novel, if I can be perfectly honest.
Here’s what I’ve decided from my (one) novel: I think King is a fantastic storyteller. He has great ideas, and he knows how to capture a reader’s attention–he certainly grabbed mine. I devoured Carrie in two nights. And yet I am not won over by his writing style. I felt that it was a bit chaotic and rushed in some parts, or not fully fleshed out in others. Granted, Carrie is a first novel.
Like I said, ambivalent.