Author: Stephen King
Page Count/Review Word Count: 598
I’ve had this book on my radar for quite a while now, but I haven’t spotted it in the charity shops and so I’d not got round to it yet. When I finally grabbed it, it was as part of a job lot of Stephen King books that also had a couple of others that I needed to get to.
I’ve also been looking forward to it because when I read King’s Danse Macabre, he talked about how nobody had written a book about a haunted car. Since writing that, he penned both Christine and From a Buick 8, the latter of which I’ve already read and which was underwhelming to say the least.
The good news is that Christine was a pretty decent read, even if it was a slow burner. It’s got that classic Stephen King vibe to it, and I have no problem with him taking his time to tell a story, as long as it’s a good story. And this one is.
What I will say is that I was expecting it to be scarier. Instead of being outright horrifying, it’s more of a slow, creeping sense of dread, as well as a sense that everything is going to take a turn for the worse, but in many ways, this is about the evil that people do and not the evil of a car. The car is a kind of catalyst, nothing more or less.
The good news is that the character work here is really well done, to the point at which I think they’re more memorable than the car itself. It also has a lot of high school angst going on, which nobody can do quite like King can. And even though the protagonists and the antagonists are relatively young, they still feel like real people. There’s none of that lazy characterisation that sometimes happens when an unskilled writer tries to write young people and falls into cliché.
I think we also need to bear in mind that I’m not a car person, which meant that a lot of the finer points were lost on me. I couldn’t tell you the difference between a carburettor and a spark plug, and so when King was writing about the repairs and the damage that the car withstood, my eyes started to glaze over.
But then, the story was gripping enough to keep me reading, and I think that’s the sign of a good writer. This isn’t an author that you often hear mentioned in the same breath as King, but it reminded me of the way that Louis Sachar wrote about bridge in one of his novels. I had (and still have) no idea how you actually play bridge, but I have no problem with it being woven into a story if the story itself is worth reading.
In some ways, Christine as a book is like Christine the car, because it takes a little while to get going but before long, it’s picking up speed and heading right towards you, leaving you caught in its evil little headlights.
My friend Charlie (Heathcote, of Our Doris fame) messaged me when I was reading this to say that it was an excellent Christmas novel, and that got me wondering. Is it a Christmas book? I guess it is, but only if you count Die Hard as a Christmas movie. A lot of the action takes place during the festive season, but that’s about it. Ho, ho, ho.