My Year of King: Carrie, 1974

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Finally! I started re-collecting King's books at the end of 2017 in preparation for my 2018 goal to re-read all of King's books, and there they sat, taunting me, until the new year. I am so excited to start this journey into the world of Stephen King. I've read his books regularly since I was a teenager, and I am really curious to see how my reaction to his stories has changed as I have moved from adolescence into middle age.

Because I am reading the books in the order they were published, Carrie was up first. This was also the first King book I ever read, so we've come full circle. Going into it, I wondered if I would still find it as engaging as I did when I was 13, or whether the intervening years would change my opinion. If I started reading King today, would I still love his books as much as I do?

I am relieved to report that I enjoyed Carrie as thoroughly in 2018 as I did in 1983. While I now recognize that it reads more like a young adult novel in a lot of ways than I did when I was an actual young adult, it still captured my interest as an adult reader, and kept me hooked even though I already knew how the story would come out.

The story, for those of you who have managed to avoid both the book and the two movies based on it in the last 40 years, is about a teenage girl named Carrie. Carrie lives with her religious fanatic mother, a woman who is so hateful and cruel it almost defies belief. Because her mother won't allow her to have friends, dress like the other girls, or go out to school events, Carrie is an outcast, ostracized and bullied everywhere she goes. After an especially heinous bullying incident in the girl's locker room (scene of many cruel incidents, both fictional and real), Carrie discovers that she has an amazing power-she can move objects with her mind. More drama ensues both at home and at school, culminating in the worst.prom.ever.

Carrie introduces us to a few stylistic characteristics that will become well-known to regular King readers (or Constant Readers, as he called us). Throughout the book, he lets you know that folks are going to die, and when. He creates characters that feel like real people, though they are less nuanced than his later characters. One of the things I love about King is how even his villains are often sympathetic, or at least conflicted about the evil they do. The good guys and bad guys in Carrie are pretty one-dimensional in that respect. The bad guys appear to have no redeeming qualities, and even when Carrie is literally destroying her entire town you still feel sorry for her. But there are glimpses into the types of characters he will write later, namely Sue and Tommy, the "it" couple who play such a large role in getting Carrie to that fateful prom.

Overall, re-reading Carrie has got me super stoked for book number two, 'Salem's Lot. I remember enjoying it, but that was before the Twilight phenomenon caused the literary world to be Carrie it will almost be like reading it for the first time all over again.
oversaturated with vampire stories. I remember very few specifics about the plot of this story, so unlike


  1. WOW, quite a feat rereading all of King's books in one year. I'd be on nightmare overload I fear.

    1. The only one of his books that actually gave me nightmares was The Stand, which I think is interesting because it doesn't really have monsters in the traditional sense. I used to dream that I was the only living person left on earth. That freaked me out.


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