The Exorcist meets My Mother, The Car. . . in a chiller that takes a nifty Twilight Zone notion and stretches it out to King-sized proportions—with teen-gab galore, horror-flick mayhem, epic foreshadowing, and endlessly teased-out suspense. It's 1978 in a town outside of Pittsburgh. Football-player Dennis (the nice, if relentlessly vulgar, narrator) is a high-school senior—as is his best-friend Arnie, pimpled loner and natural victim. But everything begins to go askew on the day that Arnie falls in love at first sight with "Christine," a total wreck of a 1958 Plymouth Fury ("one of the long ones with the big fins") that Arnie buys for $250 from creepy old Roland D. LeBay. Soon, you see, Arnie starts changing: he stands up to his college-teacher parents (manipulative Mom, weak Dad) for the first time; his skin clears up; he gets a sweetly beautiful girlfriend, Leigh. After old LeBay dies, Dennis starts worrying—especially when he learns that the mean old man's wife and daughter both died in. . . Christine. And assorted spooky questions arise: How does Arnie manage to restore Christine to 1958 condition so fast? How does he instantly restore her again after Christine has been savagely attacked by some high-school bullies? And who—if anyone—is driving Christine when the killer-car then starts bloodily bumping off all of Arnie's enemies? (Arnie himself is always out of town when the ghostly hit-and-runs occur.) By this time, of course, girlfriend Leigh is starting to become disenchanted with Arnie—who seems to sit idly by while Christine. . . or something. . . tries to choke Leigh to death. And when even Arnie's handwriting seems to change, Leigh and Dennis become convinced that their friend has been quasi-possessed by the undead soul of evil Roland LeBay (whom they can sometimes even see at the wheel!). So they determine to somehow destroy the indestructible killer-car—in a finale-showdown at Darnell's Garage, with Dennis in a tank-truck and Christine (carrying yet more corpses) on the rampage. Nothing new, horror-wise (remember The Car, a 1977 film-cheapie?), and much too long; but King's blend of adolescent raunch, All-American sentiment, and unsubtle spookery has never, since Carrie, been more popcorn-readable—with immense appeal for all those fans interested in the 522-page equivalent of a drive-in horror movie.

Pub Date: April 29, 1983

ISBN: 0451160444

Page Count: 534

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Sept. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1983

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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