Christine – Stephen King

It’s 1978 and high-schooler Art Cunningham, desperate for some control over his own life, decides to buy a beat-up old 1958 Plymouth Fury from noted scumbag, Ronald D. LeBay.  Art’s best friend Dennis views the car as a lost cause and when he senses Art losing himself in the vehicle’s restoration, their lives take an unexpected detour down a dead-end road.

So, by this point, I’ve made my way through a good chunk of Uncle Stevie’s work but for whatever reason, Christine has always driven in my blind spot.  It’s one of those books that I thought was just overly silly.  Like, a killer car?  Come on.  But it’s 80s King, which I guess is considered his absolute peak in popularity (unless you consider maybe the last five years or so) and also when he was doing a lot of drugs.  That being said, I figured this book was either going to be completely insane or a total flop like The Tommyknockers (a book I also haven’t read).

My wife is a huge consumer of TikTok and a few weeks ago, had sent me a video of a guy talking about how underrated a story Christine is.  The crux of his review said not to approach this book as a novel about a killer car, but as a novel about friendship and having to watch someone you care about fundamentally lose themselves to the point of being unrecognisable.  I truly believe this approach completely changed how I would come to view this book.  Sure, at its heart, it’s still a book about a car that murders people and that’s likely what sold John Carpenter on making the movie, but it is deeper than that.

The lore surrounding the car and why exactly it has an unquenchable bloodlust was done well.  Many of the scenes that were played for scares had me gripped and really captured my imagination.  I also found out that I will physically squirm if you write a scene where someone is choking on a hamburger.  Just super uncomfortable stuff.

I’ve gone back and forth for the last few days on whether I liked the ending.  It’s not an understatement to say A LOT happens.  There is so much going on in the last 30 or so pages that I struggled to follow the action.  That said, things get pretty gory and unrelenting in their brutality.  To borrow an absolutely overused phrase, King had the pedal to the metal during the conclusion – like some crazed, coke-fueled demolition derby.

While it likely won’t crack my top 10 Stephen King books, Christine was better than I expected.  It has the unfortunate honor of being released the same year as King’s absolute best book in Pet Sematary (1983), so I can see why it’s been overshadowed.  Do yourself a favor, don’t sleep on this one if you’re a King completionist.


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