There might be some books that resonate so hard in culture that it becomes hard to say anything about them at all. What these texts have done is generate so many memes and ideas that they end of robbing the original texts of much of their power (and seemingly, their originality). Older sci-fi suffers from this problem pretty heavily, and one needs only look at some of the works of Philip K Dick to see this in action properly. Sometimes these books maintain their original appeal by having interesting characters or an interesting conceit for the various ideas, and other times the novels end up falling very short.
Stephen King’s first novel, where a young girl comes into psychic powers, was unfortunately in that second category. I for the life of me couldn’t really find much value in it. The difficulty for me personally is that I haven’t found much value in many of King’s works generally speaking, but despite this people keep recommending them to me. I tend to lean more towards the idea that if there is a massive consensus I disagree with, the likelihood is that I am wrong about it, not the whole world refuses to see some that I do. And so I continue to give these books a try.
I knew, by cultural osmosis, exactly where this story was going, and how it was going to end. It may be because the book is pretty talked about, or because I had seen either the movies or some of their parodies. But still there was something really stiff about how the book telegraphed the coming actions. I think it may have had something to do with newspaper vignettes that talked about the ultimate tragic climax of the book. They didn’t seem to do much to build suspense, and I had something of a ‘let’s get on with this’ attitude towards it all. Also, the revisionism from some of Carries high school antagonists didn’t really do much to make me like her as a character. Nothing really did. It was weird reading a book full of unlikable characters who had no charm otherwise. I found it really hard to like Carrie because she was largely just an unlikable person. Sure, she was mistreated by everyone (at times to an almost comical and unbelievable extent), but she didn’t really do much to help her own case.
Ultimately, I did not really care about this story in any fashion. It all just felt really disappointing. But as I have said before, I do not think that Stephen King is going to be crying himself to sleep over my review tonight. I think he will manage alright. And either way, I promised a friend I would at least tackle The Shining at some point.