Belle's Reviews > Carrie

Carrie by Stephen King
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Oct 20, 12

bookshelves: book-vs-movie, oh-the-horror
Read from September 16 to 19, 2012

Carrie is an iconic horror story that just about everybody knows the ending to. I think even before I saw the movie as a teenager, I knew what happened - that image of a blood-drenched Sissy Spacek framed against a wall of fire is so pervasive in pop culture it's hard to escape that knowledge. So it's to Stephen King's credit that, even for a reader armed with an awareness of exactly what's going to go down, Carrie remains a compelling, engaging and suspenseful page-turner.

A large part of this, I think, is due to the figure of Carrie herself. Although she is responsible (spoiler warning if you've been living under a rock) for the death of hundreds of people, she is no monster. She's not even a Frankenstein's monster - sympathetic, but a monster nonetheless. She's actually incredibly human; a real (albeit strangely gifted) person who has been pushed and pulled and ground down and hurt for her entire life. Abused at home and abused at school, Carrie has no escape, until Sue and Tommy offer her a lifeline. It's no wonder then that when that lifeline appears to her to actually be a trap, she snaps. It's a very human reaction. We've all known someone like Carrie - or felt like her at some point. Without, you know, the whole telekinesis thing.

Indeed, for me, one of the most horrific parts of the book was at the very beginning, in the infamous shower scene. Carrie is the victim here, and the screaming, screeching girls around her are terrifying - but not because they are monsters. They are human too, having a very visceral reaction to Carrie's menarche. While sympathising with Carrie, the reader - like the teacher in the scene - is also disturbed by her. We recognise that the girls are being horrible, but again, like the teacher, we can understand their reaction. And that is what makes it so frightening - it reflects the monsters that are within us all, providing a critique of our discomfort with female sexuality as a society.

It's significant that it's Carrie's period that unlocks her telekinectic abilities. It gives her power and the ability to finally stand up for herself. King is careful to maintain sympathy with Carrie through to the very end. Even in the midst of her rampage, we have Sue, who has more right than anyone to be horrified by Carrie, reminding us that she was just a girl - an innocent girl, even, who was mistreated by the whole community in some way or another. There is a definite sense that prom night is a fateful evening - that the people of the town signed their own death warrants by their nasty actions. Even while you recoil in horror at the gruesome events on the page, there's an undercurrent of vindication. After a lifetime of being forgotten at best and attacked at worst, Carrie's name is literally on everyone's minds. She will no longer be ignored. It's the ultimate revenge against a society that seeks to control and repress female power.

Spoilery Talking Points
(view spoiler)

This review also appears on my blog.

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Quotes Belle Liked

Stephen King
“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.”
Stephen King, Carrie


Reading Progress

09/17/2012 page 1
0.0% "I've only read the 1999 introduction - so interesting to read about the real girls King used as inspiration for Carrie, and what drove him to write the story." 4 comments
09/17/2012 page 3
1.0% ""Nobody was really surprised when it happend, not really, not at the subconscious level where savage things grow.""
09/17/2012 page 36
14.0% "Stephen King's not really bedtime reading, eh?"
09/17/2012 page 72
29.0% "Loving this"
09/18/2012 page 98
40.0% "I like Tommy :(" 16 comments
09/18/2012 page 148
61.0% "This is getting difficult to read because I know what's coming."

Comments (showing 1-10 of 10) (10 new)

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Wendy Darling Oh, we started the audiobook last week! I loved that intro, too. Such a great storyteller.


Belle Wendy Darling wrote: "Oh, we started the audiobook last week! I loved that intro, too. Such a great storyteller."

Oh awesome! Who is the narrator?


Wendy Darling Stephen King narrates the intro and Sissy Spacek narrates the book. Quite perfect.


Belle Wendy Darling wrote: "Stephen King narrates the intro and Sissy Spacek narrates the book. Quite perfect."

That sounds amazing!


message 5: by Reynje (new)

Reynje I really want to click on the spoiler, but I'm holding back because I think I should read the book :) Love this review, Belle. I've been hearing a lot about Carrie with the remake of the film. Very intrigued!


Belle Reynje wrote: "I really want to click on the spoiler, but I'm holding back because I think I should read the book :) Love this review, Belle. I've been hearing a lot about Carrie with the remake of the film. Very..."

Nice restraint! Thanks Rey. You should read it - I'm selfish and I'd really love to know what you think of it. ;)


Catie I'll never EVER forget watching this movie with my BFF when I was about 14. At the end scene...(after all the horror in the gym)...when she's having the dream of the cemetery...and that...thing happens...we both screamed our heads off.


Belle Catie wrote: "I'll never EVER forget watching this movie with my BFF when I was about 14. At the end scene...(after all the horror in the gym)...when she's having the dream of the cemetery...and that...thing ha..."

Ha, yes, that's one of those moments that makes the movie a classic, I think. It's definitely got some iconic moments and imagery. Have you seen the sequel? It's trashtastic.


Catie No, I haven't!! I knew about the remakes but I'm not sure that I realized there even WAS a sequel!

Also, I forgot to say before - great review Belle!


Belle Catie wrote: "No, I haven't!! I knew about the remakes but I'm not sure that I realized there even WAS a sequel!

Also, I forgot to say before - great review Belle!"


Thanks! :-) The sequel is about Carrie's half sister. It's terrible but I kinda love it lol


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