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Carrie by Stephen King

Carrie (edition 2002)

by Stephen King

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7,982154407 (3.7)273
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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Just as amazing as I've always been told it is. Loved the character development. I felt sorry for Carrie. ( )
  KRaySaulis | Aug 13, 2014 |
Even if you've never read this book or seen either of the movie adaptations, the odds are good that you know more or less how it goes: Teenage girl is abused and humiliated by both her religious-nut mother and the popular girls at school. Girl develops telekinetic powers. Everything ends in blood and catastrophe on prom night. (And if you diddn't, well, none of that is particularly spoilery, in any case, as King basically tells you right from the beginning how it's all going to end.)

This was King's first novel, and I do think it shows. The writing isn't terribly polished, and the levels of horror and tension are well below the heights that King, at his best, is capable of. Plus, he seems to have conjured up Carrie and her classmates from memories of his own youth in the 50s and 60s, which makes everything feel slightly off for a story supposedly set in 1979.

All that having been said, though, there is something about it that strikes a chord; it certainly resonated with my own painful memories of school bullying. And, although she's really only a very lightly-sketched character, it is impossible not to feel empathy for poor Carrie. So, while this is by no means a great book -- I'd categorize it more as "okay" -- I can understand, I think, how it lodged itself so firmly into popular consciousness and started Stephen King off on his career of being Stephen King. ( )
1 vote bragan | Aug 5, 2014 |
I did wonder whether Stephen King's first published novel would be a mild, toe-in-the-water, version of what followed. It isn't. Carrie is a full-on mixture of the elements of anger, fear, sadness, abuse and the supernatural that are found in his later books. And it's a good mixture.
Through various sources, retrospective and in-the-moment, we follow the story of Carrie. Carrie has always taken abuse from everyone around her, and at some point she will inevitably snap. As it happens, Carrie has some special powers which could easily make her snap something out of the ordinary.

This is a very well done "impending doom" story which meticulously builds up the various elements of the story before it reaches the conclusion. A very worthwhile and enjoyable read. ( )
  clq | Jul 31, 2014 |
I think that a lot of my doubts and fears of high school were planted in me by this book.

Absolutely terrifying. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
I think that a lot of my doubts and fears of high school were planted in me by this book.

Absolutely terrifying. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
Advertencia: Después de leer éste libro jamás volverás a ver a "Matilda" con los mismos ojos.

Carrie es, extrañamente, el personaje más humano que he leído. La compadeces, la aborreces, le agarras cariño, la odias. La entiendes.

Aplausos para King. ( )
  Glire | Jul 7, 2014 |
Great Book ( )
  heyitsnathan11 | May 23, 2014 |
I am told that this was the novel that made Stephen King the famous writer that he is today. The story that I was told was that Hollywood was looking for a story with a strong female role to turn into a movie, and they happened upon this book and decided to buy the rights off of King to turn it into a movie. Obviously King accepted their proposal (otherwise there wouldn't have been a movie based on this novel, and King probably would not have become so famous). In fact this was King's first novel and Wikipedia suggests that he actually had thrown it into the bin when his wife pulled it out and encouraged him to finish it. Well, I must admire his wife for giving him a kick where it was needed otherwise he would have not even become a footnote in history. Some would probably suggest otherwise, but as I have said previously, I do not think King is a bad author, and his use of the horror genre is actually quite thought provoking.
Horror is a lot more than just monsters and ghosts running around killing people, and to be honest, that type of horror is pretty bad horror in my view (let's call it schlock horror). It is what one expects from Hollywood movies such a Fright Night, Nightmare on Elm Street and the millions of other movies that are cut from the same mould. King does not write novels like that, and of many of the movies that I have seen from his writings, he does not use that standard device to write his horror. The genre has been around for quite a while, and it is only in recent times that it has degenerated into this particular mould, and while I am not going to say that King resurrected it from this mould, I will say that he has a better understanding of traditional horror than do many Hollywood writers.
Horror is about our fears, and while we may fear some rampaging monster storming through our town destroying anything in its path, that is not necessarily horror. Fear can take any form, whether it be of imprisonment, alienation, or simply being rejected from society. Carrie takes the form of being rejected from society, and that is because she is different. In this story she is different because she has psychic powers, and it is not necessarily that she is fearful but rather that others are fearful of her. People fear being threatened, and even if the threat is unfounded, they will act to remove that threat. Take minority populations for instance. Minorities are always threatened that they are going to be overrun by a majority population, and as such will act to prevent the majority from doing so. We have seen this happen throughout the twentieth century, and usually when that happens, the persecution of a weak majority can have the effect of causing that majority to rise up. Take Iraq for instance. Up until the American Invasion, the minority Sunni ruled the country, and would act against the majority Shiite population of the south. Dare I say that we also see this struggle between the white and Negro populations of America? In fact, some cultures have actively prevented majority populations from breeding in an attempt to prevent them from overrunning the country (and the biblical book of Exodus has a well known story about that type of action).
In this story though it is a minority that is persecuted, that being Carrie. However despite being a minority she is an incredibly powerful person, and it is her psychic powers that scare people. In a way, one could say that the horror in this novel is the horror of being different. We don't want to be different, we want to be the same, we want to be like everybody else. If we are like everybody else there is nothing anybody else can or will do to us for being different. However sometimes it is impossible not to stand out from the crowd, though if we are weaker it is easier to persecute and alienate us than if we are stronger.
I guess that is why intelligent people tend to be persecuted at school. People fear intelligence, and in fearing intelligence they will attack it and attempt to undermine it. The jocks, for want of a better word, will push the geeks around, beat them up, and give them royal flushes. Yes, the geek is generally weaker than the jock, but physical weakness is made up by intellectual strength. However, the sad thing is (and this is very true in my case) is that we can react to that by dumbing ourselves down. We don't like to be different or alienated, so we will hide what we can hide from our persecutors. However, we can react in a different way, as Carrie does, and lash out in violence. That, indeed, is the wrong way to react because in the end it plays into the hands of the persecutors.
One example that I will use is the Columbine Highschool Massacre (though, as it has been pointed out to me, may not necessarily have been the truth). In that situation a group of boys, known as the Trenchcoat Mafia, were harassed, persecuted, and alienated. One day, after they had had enough, they got their fathers' guns, stormed the school, and went on a killing rampage. Who, in the end, are the bad guys in this story? The murders of course because the persecuted had turned around and become the persecutors. Yet we quickly forgot and ignore the reason why they snapped, and lay the blame of societies problems at their feet. I have heard Christian leaders proclaim how they went out specifically targetting Christians? Did they? Truth be told I do not know, however, the fact that they are now dead, they do not have the opportunity to defend themselves. Hell, even if they were locked up, they would lose the opportunity to defend themselves. What I am showing here is that there is a right way and a wrong way to deal with persecution, and lashing out at it is the wrong way. Carrie pretty much destroys the town, but it ends badly, very badly for her. The Trenchcoat Mafia left a huge impact in the Colorado Springs highschool, but it also ended very badly for them. Their persecutors have been vindicated, while they have been demonised.
See, we can learn something about ourselves and the world around us in a book written by Stephen King. ( )
  David.Alfred.Sarkies | Apr 24, 2014 |
Beginning a Stephen King reading project - first one down and it was excellent. ( )
  JonathanCrites | Apr 22, 2014 |
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. ( )
1 vote 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 |
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