Books | Fiction / Horror
Master storyteller Stephen King presents the classic #1 national bestseller of the ultimate vehicle of terror!“This is the story of a lover’s triangle…It was bad from the start. And it got worse in a hurry.” It’s love at first sight for high school student Arnie Cunningham when he and his best friend Dennis Guilder spot the dilapidated 1958 red-and-white Plymouth Fury for sale—dubbed “Christine” by its original cantankerous owner—rusting away on a front lawn of their suburban Pennsylvania neighborhood. Dennis knows that Arnie’s never had much luck in the looks or popularity department, or really taken an interest in owning a car . . . but Christine quickly changes all that. Arnie suddenly has the newfound confidence to stick up for himself, going as far as dating the most beautiful girl at Libertyville High—transfer student Leigh Cabot—even as a mysteriously restored Christine systematically and terrifyingly consumes every aspect of Arnie’s life. Dennis and Leigh soon realize that they must uncover the awful truth behind a car with a horrifying and murderous history. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned, and heaven help anyone who gets in Christine’s way…
Simon and Schuster
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"I’ve always been in love with Dennis Guilder & hoped he would appear again somewhere. It would’ve been cool if he & Charlie McGhee had ended up helping Dan Torrance fight evil in Doctor Sleep!"
"Christine is the story of Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham (a name taken from two Happy Days characters), a shortsighted bookish type (a "loser") who has only one friend and not much of a life. He's an aching stereotype, but that's not always a bad thing – as King had shown before – particularly when the stereotype breaks their mould and becomes the hero. So, we accept that he is somewhat nerdy; we accept that his one friend, Dennis, is one of the most hollow characters King has ever written, seemingly existing only to tell Arnie to be careful (and given that he's the narrator of the book, that's some going); and we accept that Arnie would see a battered, ruined 1958 Plymouth Fury on his way home from school and just buy it. No ifs or buts: he's taken in, wanting to be cool, and he falls in love. It's sold to Arnie by a crotchety back-brace-wearing old man called Roland LeBay, who loves that car, but it's time to sell it on. Dennis doesn't like LeBay. Dennis doesn't like the car. Dennis doesn't like the idea of just buying a car outright ("To my ever increasing horror, Arnie pulled his wallet out … "). Arnie buys the car anyway, takes it to a garage and learns how to turn it into the car of his dreams: fixing the engine, the paintwork. Arnie then begins a transformation: taking on some of LeBay's traits, his curmudgeonly ways, his gruff demeanour. He is suddenly (and inexplicably) attractive to a new girl in town, Leigh (another of King's early easy stereotypes: like Susan in Salem's Lot, she is a Very Nice Girl). Leigh and Arnold begin dating. Arnie is a moron, and becomes more and more like LeBay, even to the point where he starts wearing a back brace. Dennis develops a thing for Leigh – adding a smidgen of personality to the narrative – and then, over the next god-knows-how-many pages, things come to a head, and we discover, shock of shocks, that somehow the car is possessed by LeBay or something, and that maybe it's now trying to possess Arnie, and oh my god ARNOLD rearranged is ROLAND and on and on. The car drives itself into a trap set by Leigh and Dennis, and is crushed. Arnie dies in a (potentially) unrelated car crash. Dennis, the narrator with nothing to him, becomes one of King's stereotypes himself: the writer looking back on events, wondering what might have been. For such a straightforward narrative, it's a bit of a structural mess. While most of the book is in first-person, with Dennis as our trusty reliable narrator, there's a section where he ends up in hospital after a football accident and the narrative switches, inexplicably, to third-person omniscient. It's jarring and clumsy – or it would be if it wasn't close enough to the tepid style of narrative presented in Dennis's voice the rest of the way through. (Incidentally, King has said that he "wrote [himself] into a box" when working on Christine, putting Dennis in hospital, and that the narrative shift was the only way out of that, which sounds suspicious to me: I can think of a number of ways to solve that particular narrative pickle.) When we get Dennis back, nothing much has changed. It doesn't even feel as if he hasn't been with us, not really. Come the end of the novel, it's still not clear who the third-person narrator is, or how Dennis knows what it reported. Both narrations are hollow, an accusation I'd level at much of the rest of the book. None of the characters feels like they're worth much, being either underwritten (in the case of Dennis and Leigh) or overwritten (in the way that Arnie – and, by default, LeBay – seems to just become more and more ridiculous as the novel goes on). I've mentioned before the detractors who say King's oeuvre consists of a simple formula: x (where x = any seemingly innocuous thing: dog, hotel, clown etc), + y (where y = possession, demons, the undead) = novel. It's an accusation that only exists because some of King's more commercially famous novels play off these now-standard horror novel devices. For the most part, it's completely ridiculous, and more than a little unfair. Except for, I'd argue, here. Christine is a novel that, King once said, began life as a short story. It could have been, like The Mangler or Trucks, a nice little short that did this entire plot in 40 pages. But it's not. It was sold as a big deal, King's next big horror novel, and, I suspect, it was the first time that a lot of his fans felt cheated. I reckon King probably does too: it's nowhere near his best. Given the existence of another novel in King's catalogue that deals with a supernatural car, 2002's From a Buick 8, maybe King wanted to try this again, just to prove it could be done?"
"I really enjoyed Christine for what it was worth. The characters were easy to follow along with and were distinct, the plot was carried out very well, and Christine was a horrifying beast when you saw her in action. Arnie’s story is very tragic and at the end sad (though it could have been way better. It was kinda anticlimactic), and Dennis was a great perspective to tell this tale as well. The only issues I had was that both Arnie and Dennis were openly drinking beers as if it wasn’t illegal (I checked, the age limit always stayed at 21 even after prohibition). What’s worse is that their parents even encouraged them to drink in certain scenes. Still, it shouldn’t take away from what is a classic from Stephen King. 75/100"
"One of Steven Kong’s best books!"
Jennifer Joy Griffin
"But it's okay! this book just about cries. Before you get tRiGgErEd remember that you don't have to read her stories! SK tries this move frequently: say something terrible about a woman (or sometimes a gay man) then claim deniability. His narrators will say something about how maybe that's a little rough, or hey, she's not always like that! And hey, she just wants what's best for her son! Alright, then maybe we can tone down the other stuff? This is essentially the line Bag of Bones relies on."
"I'll leave it at this: no amount of clever cute backpedaling will unprint nasty, hateful thoughts. But he's built himself an ironclad defense: he says, basically, in On Writing, it's not real, it's not me, it's a story, get over it. I mean... Alright? I have a lot of fun with the rest of it. It's kind of cool to watch this car take over a guy, it's fun to pull the pieces of story together in Carrie & Misery & even Dead Zone. But 20hrs requires a lot of work, to get through SK's gaze."