Arnie Cunningham has been teased and bullied by his peers all of his life. He’s introverted, shy, and lacking in confidence. Dennis Guilder is his only friend, and one night while Dennis is driving him home Arnie spots a beat up old Plymouth Fury for sale. The car’s name is Christine and Arnie is instantly obsessed with her. Arnie is desperate to buy the car and fix it up, even after Dennis strongly urges against it. But it’s too late, Arnie has fallen in love with Christine. And in some supernatural way, Christine has fallen in love with Arnie too. And Arnie’s about to find out how deadly Christine’s love can be.
“That was when I really began to understand it was more than just Arnie suddenly deciding he wanted a car. He had never even expressed an interest in owning one before; he was content to ride with me and chip in for gas or to pedal his three-speed. And it wasn’t as if he needed a car so he could step out; to the best of my knowledge Arnie had never had a date in his life. This was something different. It was love, or something like it” (King 14).
- Arnie Cunningham: An awkward teenage outcast with an extraordinary knack for all things mechanical, especially cars
- Dennis Guilder: Arnie’s best friend, a more likeable and popular boy who plays on the high school football team
- Leigh Cabot: The prettier girl at school, she falls for Arnie for some inexplicable reason that nobody is able to understand
- Roland D. LeBay: A cruel old man who swindles Arnie when he sells Christine to him at an exorbitant price
- Will Darnell: The owner of the garage where Arnie stores Christine while repairing her
- Buddy Repperton: The school burnout/bully who picks on Arnie. He eventually gets kicked out of school after he pulls a knife on Arnie
- Christine: A demonic 1958 Plymouth Fury, she is able to repair herself supernaturally by slowly sapping Arnie’s soul
Most Gripping Moments:
- The knife fight after school with Buddy Repperton
- The run in that Buddy and his friends have with Christine one night
- Leigh’s near death experience in Christine while out with Arnie
- Dennis and Leigh’s daring plan to trap and destroy Christine once and for all
- Stu and Tom come across an abandoned Plymouth Fury in The Stand; there’s also a key chain inside the car with the initials A.C.
- Johnny Dunhill drives the same model in 11/22/63
- The film version is referenced in Mr. Mercedes
- Roland D. LeBay could possibly be a connection to Roland Deschain of The Dark Tower series
I really hated this book. It wasn’t scary, it was ridiculous. The character development was quite poor, the narrative style felt disjointed, and the plot was laughable. As far as inanimate objects as villains go, a car seems an odd choice. Especially when it was crashing and slamming directly through someone’s house to kill them, that was the height of absurdity. A scary doll, sure. I can get behind that. But a car possessed by the spirit of a guy who was kind of a dick throughout his life, but not outright evil? That just felt so weak.
This might have worked better as a short story. I got about a quarter of the way through and couldn’t even imagine how much more tedious it would get from there. I dreaded picking it up at night. Not because it was scary, but because it was a total chore. I finished this book out of obligation, not joy. Every so often throughout my reading of Christine, I would flip back to the front of the book, reading all of those quotes from reviews that were printed on the inner cover. As I read those phony sounding quotes, I would think to myself, “Yeah, this is why Bachman needed to exist.” In the 1980’s people were in a frenzy for all things King, he was the undisputed “master of horror”. And it’s obvious when reading this pile of crap that reviewers just decided to pre-emptively label it “scary” and “chilling” from the onset just because that’s the go-to marketing formula for a Stephen King book. Tell ’em it’s the scariest he’s ever been and people will eat it right up.
The thing that bothers me the most though, is how structurally unsound it is. Mid-way through the book the narrator is written into the hospital and unable to be present for a significant portion of the story. The readers are then told the story from a third person omniscient perspective, until switching back to Dennis’s narration for the final act. It’s disjointed and uncomfortable. It feels like a giant question mark is hovering over the middle of the story. Overall, its poor storytelling from a man who readers have come to expect intricate and thoughtful tales from. It’s disappointing.
Scary Factor: 1/10
Not at all scary, and barely even interesting. It was a chore to read and I do not recommend it. Simply miserable. And it pains me to say that about something King has written, I admire his imagination and talent so much, but I also call it like I see it.
King, Stephen. Christine. New York: New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 1983. Print.