Brett's Reviews > Christine

Christine by Stephen King
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's review
Feb 18, 2010

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bookshelves: horror, popular-fiction
Read from January 16 to February 18, 2010

Christine has all the strengths of early period Stephen King work, except a plot that is so goofy that it makes it hard to take the book seriously. Like much of King's output, it is very well written, full of sadness for lost time, and characters that are well drawn and easy to identify with. Thematically, we have the effects of materialism on human nature and the long lasting effects of hate, passed from one generation to another.

But the most simple way to describe the book is as a story about a haunted car. King, for all his talent, can't quite write his way out of that premise. There are plenty of scary moments, but ultimately the plot is unconvincing. It's a real testament to King that the book is as good as it is, despite this fatal flaw.

Like other King books (Salem's Lot, the Shining, Pet Semetary), this book is concerned with a Bad Place. Something has happened to turn a particular spot into something evil. In this case, we have the unending, and unexplained, fury of the car's previous owner that remains in the car after it is purchased by Arnie Cunningham. His friend Dennis watches his friend change, become possessed, by the malevolence of the car.

I've never seen the movie based on this book, but somehow some of the images got in my head when I was a kid and I can often remember a feeling of nervousness walking in front a parked car on a street at night. King is master of finding horror in our everyday existence--not only supernatural horror, but the horror of the our own mortality, of friends drifting apart, and the world passing us by.

The conclusion is the weakest portion of the book, with characters behaving in nonsensical ways. It's not satisfying or original. Because King is so good, there are still great moments in Christine. But it doesn't stack up to real classics, like the Stand, the Shining, and other of King's terrifying and strangely moving novels.

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