This is the first Richard Bachman book on my list, and one I’ve never read, so I was in for a real treat. And, after reading it, I kind of understand why King decided to publish this one under a pseudonym. It’s about a kid that decides to shoot a couple teachers and hold his class hostage. And it’s severely fucked up.
Now of course, nothing can ever be that simple. The kid, Charlie, doesn’t really know what he wants out of holding his classmates hostage. So, while police and school staff try desperately (and fail) to communicate properly with him via intercom, he basically just makes everyone talk to each other.
And as these kids, Charlie included, hash out their lives, and their problems, it’s actually kind of amazing. I’m not saying that killing teachers and holding kids at gunpoint is a good idea, but I wouldn’t be against sitting a grade eight class down in a room together for a few hours to share their stories.
About three quarters of the way through Rage, these kids are understanding each other. The mean ones are actually feeling bad because they’ve just heard the horrible life stories of the kids they tortured when they were younger. The pretty girls are taking the outcast girl under their wing because they want to help her have better self esteem. Awareness and remorse, not often seen in teenagers.
Of course, at the end one of the kids still doesn’t want to participate, and the rest of them attack him while Charlie watches. So all of that wonderful reflection and togetherness ends up turning them into a mob, which is not good. And Charlie ends up in a mental institution, where he is writing the story from.
In any case, all 111 pages made me extremely uncomfortable, so I can say that King did his job here. I was confused, agitated, and interested all at the same time. Which means, yes, good story. Nice story? Really, really not. I went back and forth from feeling sorry for Charlie and not understanding what the fuck his problem was. He’s a seriously messed up kid.
For the Dark Tower Fans: Aside from the kids being very ‘Charyou Tree’ at the end, I was too distracted by the fucked-up-ness of the narrative to even really think about other worlds. Maybe that’s exactly what the low men want us to do.
Fear Factor: Scary? No. Edgy discomfort? Definitely.
“In another [dream] my mother was giving me an enema and I was begging her to hurry because Joe was outside waiting for me. Only, Joe was there, looking over her shoulder, and he had his hands on her breasts while she worked the little red rubber bulb that was pumping soapsuds into my ass.” –Rage, Richard Bachman, 1977