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Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie (edition 2002)

by Stephen King

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KindleKapers's review
So, if you've ever considered bullying the outcast kid or not telling your teenage daughter what to expect when she officially hits puberty, this is the book that will change your mind forever! ;)

I saw the movie starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie many years ago, but since this was Stephen King's first published novel, I really wanted to actually read it. ...and as is the case with so many books-that-have-been-turned-into-movies, the book is so much better due the details provided, and the terrifying emotions evoked. I loved the way King alternated his writing styles, mixing third-person narrative with excerpts from legal depositions and first-person witness accounts, thus giving the reader opportunity to greater understand the events and psychology that led up to a nightmarish Prom Night in a small town in Maine. ( )
1 vote KindleKapers | May 26, 2012 |
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The phrase "dirty pillows" still haunts me. ( )
  LisaFoxRomance | Apr 6, 2014 |
Not much more I can say about this book. It was heart-pumpingly good. I really got into it. It is an awesome horror novel. I'm glad I decided to read this one out of the other Stephen King books I've got on my list.
Oh and I think what made this more thrilling for me is that my senoir formal is on in like 3 weeks so the idea of everything going insane on that night is horrifying. I don't think I thought it through; reading this book now but anyways it is still an awesome book. I would probably read it again if I didn't have such a big list of books to read.

It was pretty imaginative that she could read peoples mind like at the end with Sue and going through her mind like file cabinets. That was an interesting tidbit.
I also thought her mother in the story was conveyed really well and added to the shock horror value of the book.

Although I didn't get scared, my heart started going crazy, like I was in the prom or feeling Carrie. It was intense but awesome. ( )
  bethie-paige | Jan 29, 2014 |
around 2.5 stars, but i'm slightly biased. i'm doing a re/reading of all of stephen king's books, in the order he wrote them (except for sequels, which will be read after the book they follow) and this is his first publication. it shows. it's his style, his voice, his imagination, his use of language and grammar, and even his character perspective. and it's all underdeveloped but totally shows his potential and where he's going in the future. the story itself is a bit overdramatic and less fleshed out than i'm used to with him, but not too poorly so. if it was the first of his books i'd ever read, i'm not sure how many more i'd pick up, but i wouldn't dismiss him out of hand either. i think it shows a good start, and lots of room for improvement. and his classic ending that i love so much. ( )
1 vote elisa.saphier | Jan 23, 2014 |
The story of Carrie's prom night, like the identity of Luke Skywalker's father and the origin of Soylent Green, exists in my brain as part of a prepackaged set of pop cultural facts I've always known but never remember learning about. So finally reading this book felt more like reading a retelling of a well-known fairy tale than an original novel that launched Stephen King's career.

In this case, foreknowledge of the plot didn't ruin the book for me. The story's iconic scene happens halfway through the book, so there was more to the plot before and after that than what I knew about. Also, scattered throughout the story are news articles, interviews, and excerpts from other sources that were all written after prom night, which means you're told about every major event before it happens. So the point of the main story is just to fill in the details and show you how it happened from the main characters' points of view.

Even after overcoming all that, I still thought the story was mediocre. Maybe it was a fresh concept when it came out, but now it's a pretty formulaic revenge fantasy. I was pleased to find that there were a few students besides Carrie with some depth, although more of them are the standard jeering bullies that you'd expect to see in this kind of story. The tone is dated, and although that's gives the story a quaint small-town feel at times, the dialogue here doesn't sound like anything a high schooler in any time would say. Also, does every Stephen King book have a crazy religious zealot for an antagonist, or have I randomly only read those ones?

I'm glad I could fill in this pop cultural gap, but I wouldn't say this is one of the better Stephen King books I've read. Certainly it's high of the list of scary coming-of-age stories, though. ( )
  thatpirategirl | Jan 16, 2014 |
It's been so long since I actually read Carrie that I forgot much of the action. Being treated to the audio version... with SISSY SPACEK reading was phenomenal!

This is horror at its very best. It is filled with pathos and Stephen King does a great job of getting inside the heads of teenagers wanting to fit in. Carrie is such a sad and pathetic character, but even so she has an incredible life force and will to belong. Sissy Spacek brings her to life, along with all of the other characters. She makes you experience everything the characters are feeling. She does a remarkable job with her narration.

My only complaint is in her pronunciation of 2 words. The H is silent in Thibodaux and you rifle through a desk or someone's belongings... you don't riffle. Sissy should know better. But if those are the only things I can find to criticize, I can tell you that this is a good good book and it read by a great narrator.

If you like audiobooks, you can't go wrong with this one. ( )
  enemyanniemae | Jan 8, 2014 |
For me, this wasn't King's best. I had no bond with the main character and even never having seen the movie, the book itself made it quite clear what was going to happen. In that respect, it reminded me of Nineteen minutes by Jodi Picoult. The story was told in the same way, you already know what's going to happen, you just need to find out how it happens and you mostly find out by accounts from people who were there. I didn't think it was scary at all, but it was interesting.

I think the people from the book were concentrating on the wrong things in the end, by the way. Everyone was wondering what to do if someone like Carrie were ever to be born again, and considering whether they could confine such a person or whether they should kill her. What they should have been thinking about is how to prevent someone as crazy as Carrie's mother ever raising another kid again, be it with telekinetic abilities or not. The answer about what to do seems clear to me: make sure any new telekinetic is raised well and grows up to be a happy and balanced person. ( )
  zjakkelien | Dec 27, 2013 |
Read this when I was about the same age as Carrie and couldn't help thinking, "Good. Those jerks got what they deserved."

Hopefully I'm more mature now, so I can see the horror of the situation. At the time... not a horror story to me. Sort of like a revenge drama.

I think I liked it better when the King novels were short and sweet. I could put one away in a couple of hours. Now it takes me days and sometimes I lose my place sorting through all the supporting characters. "Carrie" is a short, sweet read. The world's most memorable prom-psychopath ( )
  HarperKingsley | Nov 13, 2013 |
A great book...that I should have read years ago. I love King but I never read him when I was young so some of these older titles were missing from my library. ( )
  gopfolk | Nov 8, 2013 |
The story of Carrie White has been entertaining people for nearly four decades, whether in novel form or on film. The plot is well known because of the story's popularity, but the novel is still gripping when we know what happens next. That Carrie's mother is a caricature of extreme religious fundamentalism is forgivable as she is part of what makes the novel so gripping. Other characterization is better. We can see Carrie as ridiculous as her tormenters see her with descriptors such as "bovine" and her vocalization of "Ohuh." But, we sympathize with her too. The novel is written in a mix of the normal prose style and excepts from documents about Carrie's life, such as newspapers and books. While this could irritate some readers, most will find this form adds believability and offers more than an omniscient narrator alone can provide. Another departure from usual novel form is King's use of parentheses to show multiple thoughts happening at the same time. Sometimes, this use of parenthesis was effective. For example, on prom night the tone of Carrie's thoughts via the omniscient narrator are made even more frantic by a parenthesized thought that breaks a paragraph in two. However, in other places the use of such parentheses broke the storytelling magic and seemed unnecessary. As Carrie is here to stay, inclusion in public libraries is a given. ( )
  MissyAnn | Nov 5, 2013 |
Although I had been a Stephen King fan since childhood (probably far younger than I had any business reading Stephen King to begin with), it took me until my freshman year of college to read Carrie. I had seen the movie version (at my mother's encouragement -- I'm beginning to question my upbringing...) with Sissy Spacek when I was in middle school but somehow never got around to this slim little novel.

In some ways I'm glad. The really compelling thing about Carrie is that King (somehow) manages to write a story about both bullies and mass murder without ever really taking sides. Every single character in this book is written with depth and empathy, and in the end you are left with an unsettling feeling of kinship with characters guilty of both horrible violence and merciless torment.

Carrie White comes to us not only as a bullied child but as a child raised under the roof of an abusive religious fanatic, who is perhaps the character written with the least amount of sympathy. It is clear from the beginning that Carrie never stood a chance among her peers and teachers, and we can't help but feel satisfied by the terrible violence she eventually subjects her classmates to.

What is missing from various adaptations of this book is the complexity of Carrie herself and from the narrative, as this book is interspersed with not only standard third-person but various clippings and tidbits from fictional interviews, books, and other sources that reference the climactic tragedy of the novel. You leave the book feeling uneasy, as though the events in the story really did happen and other events like them are inevitable.

You can tell, if you've read anything else by King, that this is his first novel -- but that does not make it a bad novel. The writing is strong and engaging and this is perhaps his most accessible novel for those that worry that their attention span might not hold up to some of his thicker, more densely written books. I guarantee that after reading this you'll want to check out his other work. ( )
  vombatiformes | Oct 9, 2013 |
*** Spoilers Ahead! ***

I wanted to read Carrie so I could watch the 1976 movie, as well as the upcoming movie later this year. And I must say I am really happy I did! This is a cautionary tale against bullying and the consequences that could follow. What makes it so horrific is the fact that something like this is very possible.

Carrie grows up with a religious fanatic mother who doesn’t teach Carrie the basics that every girl should know. She doesn’t seem to love her either and Carrie is a disappointment and a regret to her. Carrie is bullied by the other girls and feels out of place, that is until Tommy asks her to the Prom. I loved this part of Carrie’s story, she seemed happy and she was coming out of her shell.

What happened to her was terrible and I can understand why she acted the way she did. At times I felt everyone deserved what they got, and the other times I felt so sad for the innocent people who were just caught in the crossfire. I also think the tragedy could have been avoided. If Tommy wasn’t hit by the bucket I think he would have stopped people laughing and would have helped Carrie keep calm.

This is a different type of horror story than what I am used to. It feels real and has such a terrifying edge to it that I was hooked from the first word! ( )
  Sugar_and_Snark | Sep 24, 2013 |
Carrie White is no ordinary teenager. She is smart. She is and outcast. She is tormented unmercifully. She has a crazed religious mother. Oh, and she has telekinetic powers. When the other kids in school hatch a plot to unleash the ultimate prank on Carrie, they have no idea that they have pulled the pin on an unfathomable grenade. And once her powers explode, the town will be turned upside down.

“High school isn't a very important place. When you're going you think it's a big deal, but when it's over nobody really thinks it was great unless they're beered up.”

Carrie was written by a first-time author named Steven King. Maybe you have heard of him? He has been pretty prolific and successful since he penned this novel in 1974. In fact, he will probably start and complete another novel while you are reading this review. Still, how does Carrie stack up on its own merit? Pretty well, although it is far from King’s best work. But if you read closely, it is fascinating because Carrie offers a look at the makings of a genius.

Steven King’s writing has a raw, unpolished quality to it. Not everything in Carrie works, but you can see King taking chances with his narration that will pay massive dividends in his later works. The one quality that shines through right from the beginning is King’s characters. They have unique voices, are relatable and jump right off the page, even at this early stage of his writing. Carrie White is every high school kid who ever once felt like an outcast – who ever felt bullied – which is pretty much all of us. That’s why she relates so well. Ultimately, the superpowers are secondary to the portrait of a girl who just wants everyone to leave her alone. And her eruption of violence is a look inside the psyche of what every bullied teenager wishes they could do.

Probably the weakest part of Carrie, especially when compared with King’s next two books – ‘Salem’s Lot and The Shining – is the lack of depth in the supporting characters. Carrie White is an amazing portrait of a tormented teenager, but her antagonists ring a bit hollow in comparison. King also dresses up the language a bit too much, which is something he moves away from soon after Carrie.

Carrie is certainly a good book and a chilling story. It has flaws, but those flaws are often the result of trying to compare Carrie to King’s long list of later masterpieces, which is a bit unfair. However, even Steven King himself has said Carrie was raw and not one of his best works. I have to agree with him. Still, Carrie is worth reading for the story and worth re-reading for the insight it provides into the development of one of the greatest writers of our generation. ( )
  csayban | Sep 20, 2013 |
It was with some surprise I realized a little while ago that I'd never read this. Luckily I'd picked up a couple of years back the very natty-looking Collectors' Edition published in 1991 by Plume, so I grabbed it off the shelf and set to.

I was startled by how good the novel is. I won't outline the plot, because even people who've neither read the book nor seen the movie must surely by now know what it's about. What impressed me was how the young Stephen King was so ambitious in his use of different narrative techniques. Some of these, to be honest, might have worked more effectively had I been reading a different edition (see below on this); but even in instances where his selection of narrative style grated on me I was still pleased that he was actually trying these things. I kind of wish he'd think of learning from this novel himself; I gave up reading him a few years ago, at about the time of Dreamcatcher, because by then I'd read several recent novels in a row of his that hadn't been actually bad but had struck me as mediocre — by-the-numbers, sort of.

As to the vaunted Collectors' Edition? I'm kind of spitting about it. I don't blame it for the fact that it has an intensely tedious introduction by Tabitha King — that's the kind of thing you expect in posh reissues — but I do resent the profusion of typos (I did get to laugh aloud at mention of "the hideous three-lobbed Eye" — one for basketball fans, maybe?) and I also resent the crap-headed design. The pages are biggish and the font fairly small, which means that the lines are kind of longer than they should be. (Presumably Plume wanted to keep the page count down to save money; after all, they weren't likely to sell too many copies of a King reissue, were they? Yeah, right.) For some parts of the text the font becomes even smaller — which would be a perfectly reasonable typographical gambit if it weren't for the fact that the font was almost too small already. As it was, I found myself having to pick my way with care through sections that were sometimes several pages long: not only was I having to peer at the tiny type, there were too many words in a full line for the eye to be able to scan in the normal fashion. It's Typography 101 that you don't make this sort of error; clearly someone at Plume didn't give a damn about creating a functional book — just an object that looks good (which it does) from a distance. Grr. ( )
  JohnGrant1 | Aug 11, 2013 |
The breakthrough novel for Stephen King, coming after the Bachman books. This book is actually more like the second movie version of Carrie, although I still prefer the old version. ( )
  ARBraun7 | Jul 20, 2013 |
After many years of book-snobbery, I've finally read a Stephen King novel. Infinitely better than I expected. ( )
  cjyurkanin | May 22, 2013 |
What fun it was to read the very first Stephen King novel - the one that launched this author's illustrious writing career! Thank you, Tabitha King, for literally pulling the original version of this book out of the trash.

I never read this book before nor did I see the movie yet. However, the picture of the the "bloody Carrie" (Sissy Spacek of the movie) is kind of iconic of Stephen King's writing. I finally decided to take the plunge and read the book (and will probably also seek out the movie soon).

THere are Stephen King books I like better, but this story is not bad. It certainly was not bad enough to toss. The value of it was King's emerging writing style (horror in a fun kind of way - if there is such a thing). I do not equate King horror with the kind of horror scenes we see in everyday life and grieve over in modern news. His horror always has a supernatural edge, a way of distinguishing from what "could be" to what "really could be".

I think Stephen King has a caring heart and he tries to make a statement in this book. Certainly, religious fanaticism and bullying have not gone away since this book was written in 1974 (almost 40 years ago). Here King takes a stand. He simply says, though his horror story, it's *wrong*!

The story is of Carrie White, daughter of religious fanatic Margaret White, a widow unusually cruel in enforcing religious fervor in her only child. As a result, Carrie is always "different" and ostracized in her high school. Feeling remorse for a particularly distressing situation, Susan Snell, a fellow high school student, decides to give Carrie the opportunity to attend prom. All does not go as planned.

The style of this book is great because it is interspersed with interviews, press clippings, and journal entries in such a way that we readers begin to see this story through many points of view.

I enjoyed this book a lot and could see King's emerging humor (mostly well hidden, but coming through in some scenes - especially the scene with Ms. Desjardin and the assistant principal, Morton). If you find that you like this book, I'd strongly urge you to continue delving into Mr. King's work by reading with his cult classic, The Shining. ( )
1 vote SqueakyChu | May 11, 2013 |
Rereading his first to prep for his latest. ( )
  morbusiff | May 9, 2013 |
This was my first Stephen King novel and I absolutely loved it. I hadn't seen the movie either yet did know about the preface so I was able to truly enjoy this novel. The story of Carrie is so heart-breaking yet so shocking. Stephen King's writing is utterly flawless... I became an immediate fan. ( )
  bonniemarjorie | May 7, 2013 |
This was the first on my Halloween-themed reading list. I usually just can't make it through a Stephen King book without getting irritated with his prose. But Carrie is actually pretty well done. I liked his portrayal of tortured teenage angst and her truly frightening religious zealot mother.
However...he did take too long to get through the end of the story....
( )
  KristySP | Apr 21, 2013 |
Carrie White has always been the victim of constant ridicule and bullying from her classmates at school for being weird and different, and is mentally and physically abused by her religious mother when she goes home. Little does everyone know how different she really is, until one act of kindness on Prom Night is met with an act of ruthless cruelty that turns into a night of horror and destruction that her classmates, or the town, would never forget. I really liked this book, and having never seen the movie, I didn't entirely know what to expect throughout the story. I would definitely say this is more appropriate for older, mature readers because of the language and some of the content, but I think this is a real eye-opening story about bullying and something a lot of teenagers could learn from. ( )
  SparklePonies | Apr 18, 2013 |
I love it when a culture-pervading novel like this turns out to be so very different - and way better - when you actually read it! Despite the horrendous typos in my Hodder edition, I LOVED this book... in a weird way... I don't think a book's made me think and feel and remember so very much in a long time, and reading it was an almost painful experience. Memories of my own hellish high school experiences were dredged up, and I found myself mulling over Carrie's predicament during every idle moment, when I was brushing my teeth or in the shower or driving to work. I didn't really think of it as a horror story at all - I found it achingly sad and it made me angry for every girl like Carrie who's been humiliated all her life. Although you can tell it's King's first novel - it's a little clumsy at times - I loved the way it was built up using academic reports, book extracts, interviews and all sorts of other excerpts alongside the main prose, and I thought the technique of using parentheses to insert little flashes of sharply honest thought was a really clever way of showing how our minds bombard us with ideas and impulses even when we're thinking about something else. A tense and evocative little book that will stay with me for a long time. ( )
1 vote elliepotten | Apr 17, 2013 |
Rating: 4 of 5

Read for The Stephen King Challenge ( )
  flying_monkeys | Apr 14, 2013 |
Wow, what a scary book this was. So many of Stephen King's were made into a movie and alas not all were good. Well Carrie was a great movie and a great book.

I think I have read this book even more than 3 times, and watched the movie also 3 times. I still have the movie so maybe soon?
Highly recommend. ( )
  Marlene-NL | Apr 12, 2013 |
Say what you like about Stephen King, he really can write a gripping story. I still dislike some of his stylistic quirks,
(like this thoughts in brackets it really irritates me i)
but I always read his books really, really fast. Not the most accomplished, artful writing in the world, really, but it has a straightforward appeal, and it certainly gets its hooks into you. Or me, anyway, I'm sure there are people who don't like it, but there are plenty of people I know who turn their noses up at Stephen King without ever reading a word he's written.

I think I've observed before that he writes about real people and it's only the situations that make it horror/fantasy/whatever. I'm reading On Writing at the moment, so what he says about writing the truth is really obvious to me right now. I think everyone goes to school with a Carrie. I think I probably was the Carrie of my school, in a way -- the one who could never get it right, the one who nobody stuck up for, wrong kind of religion... in my case, wrong sexuality. And then he adds the detail: so what if this girl had a really extreme mother? And telekinetic powers? And what if she broke?

Another thing I found very interesting about this book was the idea of combining different reports on the incidents together, making this a kind of Dracula book -- made up of eye witness accounts.

The result? A book that's actually uncomfortable to read, because you see yourself in the characters. Sue Snell and Carrie White, for me; maybe someone sees themselves in Chris.

Carrie isn't my favourite of Stephen King's books that I've read so far, but it certainly fits his MO. Worth reading if you want to try one of his books minus the huge long set up that characterises some of the others (The Stand, It, etc). ( )
  shanaqui | Apr 9, 2013 |
The eponymous protagonist of Carrie is a teenage girl with some serious issues regarding her relationship with her mother and, bullying at school (LOL, How's that for understatement!) Carrie's mother is a religious zealot of the most extreme and fundamental kind: mentally debilitated and only able to find recourse in biblical literalism. This creates an isolated home culture in which Carrie is reared, untutored in the norms of societal living and, much less in the nuances of personal relationships. Sheltered and ignorant, Carrie is left at the mercy of her classmates and; throughout the years, she is subjected to peer cruelty and ostracism. The situation comes to a head when Carrie officially becomes a woman, unfortunately while she is showering at the high school gym. The incident sparks an ugly reaction of taunting and assault by her classmates and, Carrie starts to stress out. The home front provides no answers or succor to her problems, indeed the strain on Carrie increases as her mother inflates the religious fervor to insane dimensions. How Carrie deals with this situation, using her latent power, is the stuff of Stephen King's horror classic.

Sissy Spacek, who starred in the 1976 movie which was based on the novel, narrated the audiobook. Owing to her familiarity with the character, a now iconic figure in the horror film genre, she is an obvious choice to read the book; however, there are some issues that, while they could be transcended in the film, could not be overlooked in the audio production. Ms Spacek slides some words around lazily in her mouth so that a word like "menstruation" becomes"menstration." This brings to the listener's attention that we have more of the coal miners daughter than we do a New England native from Down East. There is also a minor production issue of booth noise, specifically page turns and shuffling which distracts from the story. Overall though, Sissy Spacek tells the story well and that is no small mean feat.

Redacted from the original blog review at dog eared copy, Carrie; 10/27/2011 ( )
  Tanya-dogearedcopy | Apr 4, 2013 |
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