I’ve been wanting to review Stephen King’s Dark Tower series of books for a while now, but it’s been so long since I read the first one that I need to read it again to recap what actually happened – and familiarise myself with the mistakes. In the meantime, after completing a university assignment on the man himself, let’s pay a visit to 1974 and the beginning of King’s career as a novelist.
So what can I say about the book? Well, for starters, reading about a girl getting her first period wouldn’t normally be my first choice of literature, but I’ll roll with it because King has a fantastic way with words. When describing a girl losing her virginity he says, ‘it felt like being reamed out with a hoe handle.’ Is he speaking from experience?
There are many things about Carrie that highlight King’s future prowess, but there are also many examples of inexperience, impatience and sloppiness. I think that King’s agent must have only asked for the first 80 pages of the manuscript because if Carrie’s publication came down to pages 80 to 242, it wouldn’t have seen the light of day.
Here are some of the more noticeable mistakes: ‘reaons’ instead of reasons, ‘throught’ instead of through, ‘dowtown’ instead of downtown and, my personal favourite, ‘so domething’ instead of do something. There are so many spelling mistakes, it almost makes Cy Flood, the travel rep, look good. Almost.
That said the first 80 pages are very well polished and professional. I was drawn in from the start and couldn’t help but feel a degree of empathy towards the characters.
Carrie is written from three different perspectives and King does well to write in this way and still keep the reader’s attention. However, the perspective strays from time to time and I found myself having to reread one paragraph a couple of times before working out which perspective it was from, and even then, it still felt out of place.
My last issue with the book is the ending. Even though it’s a short book, the majority of the ending feels unnecessary as it’s just other characters’ perspectives of the event which the reader witnessed firsthand. However, the last few pages add a nice twist... and also make the novel inconclusive.
Recommendations would go to people who had already read Stephen King but have failed to read Carrie and here is why. I’m afraid new readers to King would be put off the rest of his work after all this stuff I’ve just said. King is a good writer and a fantastic storyteller. It’s just a shame that, on the whole, Carrie doesn’t get the basics right.
Carrie by Stephen King was published by New English Library in 1974. RRP £7.99 (Paperback)