|Submitted by Christopher Ware|
(May 15, 2001)
The two strongest things in Stephen King's writing are his storytelling and his ability to craft vivid, believable characters. This book is a prime example of both of these talents. It is the story of Arnie and Dennis, two high school seniors who have been friends since they were five years old. Arnie has always been the "outcast" kid in school and Dennis has stood up for him countless times. That friendship is put to the test when Arnie falls in love with Christine, a 1958 Plymouth Fury in desperate need of restoration. The purchase of the car puts a strain on Arnie's relationship with everyone around him, including Dennis. Their friendship was, in my opinion, the central theme in the book, rather than the supernatural events surrounding Christine. Those could have been removed entirely from the book and the power of the friendship would still be there. The story wouldn't be quite as gripping and it wouldn't truly be Stephen King, but it would still be a very good read. The first and third parts of the book were told in the first person narrative from Dennis' point of view. This made for very powerful reading. King manages to tweak the readers feelings in exactly the way he wants by doing this. When Dennis ends up in the hospital for a couple months with a football injury, the narration changes to third person for the middle third. Although not quite as emotionally powerful as the first and third parts, this section of the book is meaty in its own way. We see Arnie changing from the shy, "loner" character from the first part into the nearly unlikeable character in the third part. I think this book has the most depressing ending of all of Stephen King's books (at least of the ones I've read). The reason for this is the fact that he makes you care for the characters. The reader wants everything to turn out okay for everybody. King had no compunction whatsoever about doing things to his characters. If he'd tied it up in a sappy, "everything's okay" ending, it might not have been as powerful. Less depressing, but less powerful nonetheless. This book has jumped to near the top of the list of my favorite Stephen King books. Highly recommended.