Rage

RageRage by Richard Bachman, Stephen King
Publisher: Signet Books
Released: September 13, 1977
Pages: 211
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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.

Rage seems like a written down thought-experiment, in a good way. Put an angry high-school student in a classroom with a gun and his fellow students. What would happen? What could happen? In this setting the class starts having a conversation in which things are said and revealed that probably would otherwise never have been. The events start bordering on the absurd, but somehow aren’t that surprising. The book isn’t as much a story as it is an exploration of the personal past-events and feelings of the characters in it, and that’s almost impressive in its own right: a book about a school shooting where most of it isn’t really about the school shooting at all.

It’s a very interesting book, and, from what I’ve read so far, as a whole it’s not really Stephen King’y (hey, he did use pseudonym for it after all). But it’s also not that different from parts of the Stephen King books where characters explore their emotions or look back at their pasts. And, again, “interesting” is the word I’d use for this book, and it’s interesting in a way that is sometimes a little thought-provoking. It’s not fun or exciting, but I don’t think it tries to be. It is truly what it is, and aware of exactly what it is. And it’s more than interesting enough to justify it’s length.

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