Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Christine


Christine is the first of King's 'car' novels. Originally published in 1983, it presents a story of a complicated relationship between a teenager and... his vintage car.
The novel starts when two teenage boys are riding home from work. One of them, a nerdy type called Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham, notices an old, badly damaged Plymouth Fury parked on a lawn in front of a house. He immediately becomes fascinated with the vehicle and is determined to buy it. As Arnie finishes the process of buying the car, his best friend Dennis sits in the car and has a kind of vision that leaves him disturbed. He instinctively feels bad about the car, which the previous owner calls Christine. The car is delivered to Will Darnell's garage. It's a place of dubious reputation and its owner is suspected of illegal activities. Arnie begins the process of restoring his car there. As he gets more involved in the process, his relationship with his family, best friend Dennis, and later even his girlfriend Leigh, is seriously affected.
As usual, King sets up a solid background for his story. The story is told from Dennis' perspective.The major part of the novel consists of descriptions of everyday life of the protagonists. I was a bit surprised by a focus on negative aspects of high school life. I don't know whether this reflects the author's experiences but it seems that extreme forms of bullying, use of alcohol and drugs are always present in his novels about children and teenagers.
The author also devotes much of the novel to structuring a psychological portrait of the main character. We observe how factors like being a nerdy boy at school, having overprotective parents, combined with his natural sensitivity and a sharp mind, shape his personality and affect the way he perceives the world. Reading how a great relationship between two best friends slowly deteriorates is also interesting. Arnie, driven by his fascination of Christine, gradually moves away from his family and friends. His personality changes completely. Together with that, there are fatal car accidents that involve people who had previously bullied and tormented the protagonist...

Up until that point, the novel reads really well. It's not a complicated story, but a solid background and convincing characters make following it an enjoyable experience. 1980s' is not a very remote period in history but still everything seems significantly different. Not only the technology, ways of spending free time and human relations. Christine is firmly rooted in that period of time and reading the novel makes it easy to immerse oneself in those times. However, the addition of supernatural breaks the coherence of that image and feels a bit too much out of place to be treated seriously...

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