2. Carrie (Novel)
Original publication date: 1974
The greatness of Stephen King was apparent from day one, thanks to his brilliant first published novel, Carrie. Catching bookworms and literary critics with an unexpected gut punch in April 1974, King’s debut presents the ultimate “high school is hell” set-up, following bullied teenager Carrie White’s nightmarish experiences on campus and her equally traumatic domestic woes, the latter caused by her psychotically god-fearing mother. With poignantly impactful scenes (Carrie’s first-ever period happens in the girls’ locker room’s shower, for all to see) and genuinely relatable characters, Carrie painfully captures what it’s like for young outcasts with humiliation targets plastered on their foreheads by the cool kids.
Except that, in King’s world, the girl who gets belittled murders the majority of her fellow classmates and professors using telekinesis. Yet, by the time Carrie’s gruesome prom night massacre kicks in, King’s novel has already depicted everyday teenage horrors that chill more than any amount of electrocuted corpses and burnt-alive jocks ever could.