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Christine
Stephen King
Narrated by Holter Graham
Blackstone Audio, 19 hours

Christine
Stephen King
Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine, in 1947. He attended the grammar school in Durham, Maine, and then Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. King graduated from the University of Maine at Orono in 1970, with a B.S. in English and qualified to teach at the high school level. He met his wife, Tabitha, in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University of Maine of Orono, where they both worked as students. Unable to find a teaching job, the couple lived on his earnings as a labourer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines. In the fall of 1971, King began teaching high school English classes at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. In the spring of 1973, Doubleday & Co. accepted his novel Carrie for publication. A few months later, its paperback sale provided him with the means to leave teaching and write full-time.

Stephen King Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower
SF Site Column: Climbing the Tower
SF Site Review: LT's Theory of Pets
SF Site Review: Dreamcatcher
SF Site Review: On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
SF Site Review: Hearts in Atlantis
SF Site Review: The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon
SF Site Review: Bag of Bones
SF Site Review: Storm of the Century

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven Brandt

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Every high school in America has at least one kid like Arnold Cunningham. Arnie is your typical nerd: he's scrawny, brainy, wears thick-framed glasses, has a bad complexion, and is a member of the Libertyville High chess club. The only thing you might say is unusual about Arnie is that he has an uncanny knack for fixing cars. Rather than gaining him acceptance, this ability only serves to throw him directly into the path of the motorheads in the auto shop, the kind of kids who feel it is their sworn duty to make sure the Arnold Cunninghams of the world remain in their proper place. But during the summer before his senior year at Libertyville High, Arnold falls in love, and everything begins to change.

No, it isn't a girl that catches Arnie's attention, he knows no girl would want to be seen with him, Arnold falls in love with a car, a 1958 Plymouth Fury that looks like it would be more at home in a scrap yard than on the road. Going against the advice and pleadings of his best friend, Dennis Guilder, Arnie dips into his college fund and buys the old heap, affectionately referred to as Christine by her owner, for the sum of $250 -- not a small sum in 1978. Arnie sees a lot of potential in Christine, and perhaps a kindred spirit. It never occurs to him, however, that maybe he is only seeing what Christine wants him to see.

For Arnie, it is pretty much downhill from there. Christine gradually consumes more and more of Arnie, not just his time and his college fund, but he himself. His grades begin to suffer, and Arnie begins working for Will Darnell, the crooked owner of the shop where Arnie works on Christine. Within just a few months, his best friend Dennis, and even his own parents, barely recognize him.

Dennis Guilder has known Arnie since they were little, and he was with Arnie the first day he saw Christine. Dennis, more than anyone, is aware of the unhealthy hold the car has on his friend, and has witnessed first-hand the changes Arnie has undergone. But Dennis knows a few things that even Arnie doesn't. He knows, for instance, how much Christine's first owner loved her, how he poured his heart and soul into the car, and how Christine was still the most important thing to him, even after his wife and daughter died in her. Dennis doesn't understand how, but he is convinced that the malign spirit of Roland D. LeBay still inhabits Christine, and that now, that spirit is beginning to take hold of Arnie. When the people that get in the way of Arnie, or Christine, begin to die, Dennis knows the car must be destroyed. He can only hope that it is not too late to save his friend.

Christine is one of my favorite Stephen King novels. Lots of authors have written about haunted houses, but I can think of only one story about a haunted car. I love the way King personifies Christine: the snarling mouth of her grill, the slender curves of her body, the furious scream of her engine, and especially the glowing dashboard dials, like two eyes that watch whoever is inside the car. It becomes entirely too easy to think of Christine as Arnie's girl, his protector and his jealous lover.

The thing I really appreciate the most about King's writing is the way he can create characters and make you care about them. I don't know any other writer who can do it so well. Dennis and Arnie are two good examples of that. Their friendship is a very special one. As Arnie and Dennis grow up together, Arnie becomes a nerd, and Dennis becomes a star athlete, but they always stick together. And it isn't a one-sided friendship either. Dennis always stick up for Arnie, sure, but Dennis always felt like he gets just as much out of the relationship. It's always Arnie, after all, who can think of fun things to do on a rainy day; Arnie who can always make Dennis laugh. It is the special nature of that friendship that makes Christine such a tragedy, and further serves to illustrate the almost human nature of the car. What else could come between such close friends besides a girl?

Holter Graham does an excellent job in his narration of Christine. His reading and characterizations are good, but I especially like how he handles Arnie. Graham starts out with a voice that sounds like a nerdy kid who hasn't even reached puberty yet, but as LeBay gradually gains control, Graham's voice becomes deeper and rougher. There is one scene in particular where Arnie and LeBay are fighting each other for control, and Holter's voice slips back and forth from one to the other, seemingly with ease. It is a nice piece of narrating.

Good narrator, great story, what more can I say? You won't be disappointed with this audiobook.

Copyright © 2011 Steven Brandt

Steven Brandt spends most of his waking hours listening to audiobooks and reviewing them for his blog, Audiobook Heaven. When not reading or reviewing, Steven is usually playing the saxophone for the entertainment and amusement of his family.


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