book-reviews

Carrie

by Stephen King

Rating: ★★★★

I like to say that Carrie is a feel-good story. It's a story where you get to live out the darker impulses brought on by adolescent experience -- even distantly remembered. Here is a girl who is granted super-powers, incredible abilities, and who actually uses them in the manner we all fantasise about: to violently slaughter all the people that have picked on or made fun of her. No spandex or lectures on civic duty here.

It's hard to do anything but cheer her on. King paints her as an entirely sympathetic character, any personal foibles readily explained by her abusive upbringing and religiously deranged mother. For the most part her foes are the kind of petty villains we can recognise from our own lives, and so they are easy to side against, even whilst burning alive.

The counterpoint comes from the perspective of one or two guilt-laden tormentors, those who merely went along with the crowd, swept by the mob mentality King captures so well. Their acts of penitence, along with the blissful innocence of our heroine's love interest, are the faith-redeeming parts of the book, which quietly let you know -- as you're applauding the blood-drenched Carrie in her psychic onslaught -- that there are also some nice people out there who don't actually want to hurt you.

The pseudo-documentary style of the book, and the interspersed snippets from the ridiculous hearing held afterwards, help give a flavour of 'what if' to the story -- Carrie is a sobering illustration of what psychic powers would really mean for mankind. However, I cannot call this anything but an afterthought to a therapeutic story.