Argh. For more than two weeks I'd been trying to find an approach to my review of Christine, the first of two novels Stephen King published in 1983 (the second was Pet Sematary). This way, that way, whatever way, but I couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to say. I had paragraphs but no overarching point other than something about baby boomers and American cars and independence, with plenty of Springsteen references. The review just wasn't coming together. Then, of course, a technological glitch saved me the headache and deleted virtually all of what I wrote. This has really only happened once or twice before while writing this blog, so I count myself lucky.
Probably the reason I had such a tough time writing my review was because I realized Christine isn't a King classic in any sense. All the King aspects are there: vulgar yet thoughtful teenagers, evil old men, well-meaning but doomed parents, a smallish town (in Pennsylvania, not Maine), and lots of rock'n'roll references; just seems like King's kinda on autopilot here. Enjoyable in a cozy way, yes, but did it affect me as deeply as Pet Sematary, 'Salem's Lot, The Shining, "The Mist," "Nona," "Strawberry Spring," "Apt Pupil"? Nope, not even close.
Christine was one of my favorite books to read and reread when I was a teenager, but now I find it entirely too middle-of-the-road (sorry), with horrors that are not particularly scary, characters that for all their vividness are actually quite cliched, and a lot of unnecessary stuffing. I certainly didn't think Roland LeBay's backstory was horrific enough - and when his rotting corpse shows up in Christine's passenger seat, I could really only think of this. The most chilling part of Christine is the final lines. Overall I think the novel is more about friendship and growing up than about the supernatural power that literally drives Christine. And yet, perhaps Christine is ultimately about an old man who hates kids on his lawn, and who has one helluva way of getting back at them.