Carrie by Stephen King – Book Review

By Shruti Vairagkar (L&T Howden)

Written by Stephen King, Carrie was released in 1974. It is horror tale of a teenage girl, Carrie White who discovers her telekinetic power during the book. A fairly short book at roughly 250 pages, it packs quite a punch giving the reader goosebumps while also making one sympathise with the protagonist.

Sixteen-year-old Carrie White is a frumpy, plain Jane whose mother is extremely religious to the point of fanaticism. She is occasionally physically abused at home by her mother and bullied at school by her classmates because of her appearance. She finds kindness in isolated pockets through her gym teacher and a couple of classmates.

Events transpire which lead her to discover her telekinetic and telepathic powers which she practices and strengthens over time. The final event where she is bullied mercilessly and humiliated pushes her over the edge leading her on a path of revenge and destruction. The details of these events and what she does would constitute spoilers and are best left for the reader to discover for themselves.

This book made me cringe quite a few times. Although set in the late 1970s, the kind of bullying Carrie endures just because she is unlike her peers is no different from the what is observed today, roughly four decades later. She does not match the standards of beauty, social status, and family background deemed acceptable by society at large. Her actions in the last few pages of the book remind the reader how important kindness is. If Carrie had not faced the kind of abuse she did – at home and school, she may have been on a different path.

Stephen King is known for his horror and supernatural fiction. Carrie, his first published novel definitely creeped me out. Being a horror movie buff, I was curious how one experiences the horror on page without the sound and visual effects. Mr King successfully accomplishes it through his words which are enough to conjure up images of the unfortunate life of Carrie.

It has been adapted for screen and stage several times, the latest movie adaptation starring Chloë Grace Moretz as the titular character Carrie White, and Julianne Moore as her mother. Non-bibliophiles may check out the movie instead.

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