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CHRISTINE by Stephen King Kirkus Star


by Stephen King

Pub Date: April 29th, 1983
ISBN: 0451160444
Publisher: Viking

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.