Hail to the King is a year-long Stephen King reading challenge hosted by me and Cassie. Want to know more? Head over here!
Rage by Stephen King
Pub. Date: September, 1977
Summary: A disturbed high-school student with authority problems kills one of his teachers and takes the rest of his class hostage. Over the course of one long, tense and unbearable hot afternoon, Charlie Decker explains what led him to this drastic sequence of events, while at the same time deconstructing the personalities of his classmates, forcing each one to justify his or her existence.
Genre: Novella, Horror
Recommended for: Readers curious in King’s Bachman work
This is my second Hail to the King read, after January’s awesome Revival. For my next read, I wanted something quick and easy – he has a ton of short stories! I grabbed a collection of his Richard Bachman books (nowadays, authors like James Patterson and Nora Roberts churn out 10+ books a year, but there was a time when it was considered detrimental to your career to write that much, so King published under a pseudonym) and selected Rage, a novella about a boy who goes on a killing spree.
Despite knowing I have a hard time getting into King’s earlier work (it’s seriously hit-or-miss for me) I hunkered down one afternoon and started plowing away. I put my trust in the horror master and he failed me. Charlie Decker is a moody teenager who has a crappy home life and an ongoing stomach issue. This is a boy whose entire life consists of waking up on the wrong side of the bed. An early morning encounter with the school psychologist sets the wheels in motion and forty minutes later he’s shot and killed two teachers, has taken his class hostage, and the school is surrounded by police cars.
My issue with Rage wasn’t Charlie. I’m completely fine with horrible main characters. No, my problem here was that is was boring. Strange, right? How could a Stephen King novel about a school shooting put me to sleep?! Things were going well until Charlie takes his class hostage. Naturally they’re all terrified at first, but then his classmates begin to take his side. No one is concerned about the body under the teacher’s desk or the one outside the classroom door. Nope, instead each chapter is devoted to a student and we get a peek into his or her miserable life.
Maybe I’m being too harsh here. I was in high school once! For these kids not getting a date is equivalent to the world ending. But when their whining drags on for another hundred pages…I’m surprised Charlie didn’t end things right then and there. Or maybe he did. I didn’t get past page 70.
So while Rage was a bust I’m still open to trying some of his earlier novels – a lot of his classics are from the beginning of his career! For now though, I think I’ll stick with his more recent books. Sorry, King, but this one just didn’t work for me.
Head over to Cassie’s post to link up with your reviews!