book-review_-christineStephen King
Viking Press

If being a kid is about learning how to live, then being a grown-up is about learning how to die.

Scene: a middle-class suburb of Pittsburgh. Time: 1978. Cast of characters: Arnie Cunningham, a bookish and bullied high school senior; Dennis Guilder, his friend and sometimes protector; Leigh Cabot, the new girl in school, won by Arnie…but wanted by Dennis as well. Just another lovers’ triangle, you say? Not quite. There’s a fourth here, the second lady, the dark lady. “Cars are girls,” Leigh Cabot says, and the dark force in Stephen King’s new novel is a 1958 Plymouth named Christine. She is no ordinary car, this white-over-red two-toned survivor of a time when high-test gasoline was priced at a quarter a gallon and speedometers were calibrated all the way up to a hundred and twenty miles an hour…a time when rock and roll in all its first crude power ruled America…a time when speed was king. Arnie Cunningham is determined to have Christine at any price, and little by little, Dennis and Leigh begin to suspect that the price of his growing obsession may be terrifyingly high, its result blackly evil. as Arnie sets feverishly to work on the seemingly hopeless job of resorting Christine, Christine begins to develop a terrible life of her own. Or is that only imagination? Dennis continues to hope so…and then people begin to die on Libertyville’s dark suburban streets and roads…and the time comes when Dennis can no longer deny the horrifying truth: Christine is alive.

Here’s another one of the Stephen King books that I was reading back in my Freshman year in High School, and was another one that took a bit longer than usual to get through. Mind you, my typical time reading a book is a few days, maybe a week at most if there’s a lot of things going on. I am a busy carbon-based meatbag, after all.

This particular tale of a High School nerd who comes across a classic of a car that gives him a boost of self-esteem that helps him cope with his messed up family life, bullies at school, and get a girlfriend. Also, the car is alive and possesses the nerd and becomes the ultimate jealous stalker girlfriend that will do anything to keep the nerd to itself…including kill. This is a Stephen King book, after all. Of course, it’s a bit hard to kill this particular car; try as you might, it keeps bouncing back. Even when stuck in a compactor…

If there’s one thing that King does well, it’s turning common everyday items into things to fear. Christine is one of his better loved works, having been turned into a movie by John Carpenter in 1983. I remember being creeped out by the story more than a few times, and at such was rather effective at that. It’s not my favorite, or even close to my favorite of his I’ve read, but it’s in the lower part of the Top Ten of Stephen King books I’ve read.