Rage is the first of King’s Bachman Books and can be very hard to find these days. I happened to have a paperback copy of the Bachman Books that happened to include the prologue of why King chose to write under the pseudoname of Richard Bachman. He basically wanted to see if his writing could make it without having the heavyweight punch of Stephen King on the cover. Unfortunately, a book critic from Washington DC started nosing around when he discovered that this new writer, Richard Bachman, wrote an awful lot like that well known fellow from Bangor.
Rage is an interesting tale that comes off as The Breakfast Club meets Columbine/Sandy Hook/(insert your preferred school shooting here). Charlie Decker is a high school student that is teetering on the edge of sanity. After being suspended for whacking a teacher upside the noggin with a pipe wrench, Charlie comes to school to meet with the principal. After a meeting where the usually mild-mannered Charlie lets the principal know exactly what he thinks of him, he heads to his locker in what would appear to be to clean it out before being sent off to have his head examined by the local shrink. Instead, he sets fire to the contents of the locker and pulls out a pistol to head to his first hour class. He is then confronted by the teacher as to if he has a hall pass and to which Charlie promptly puts a bullet into her head and takes over the class. While holding the class at gunpoint, Charlie and the class go into a kind of Breakfast Club setting where they are first made to tell their secrets and then, after a few confessions, the class begins to want to tell their secrets willingly. This sort of cleansing becomes therapeutical and earns Charlie an odd sort of endearment to many of them.
This story predates Columbine by 25 years or so and would not work in today’s age of smart phones, social media, and instant access to knowledge and awareness of school shootings on CNN. However, it works really well when the setting is the late 1970s. Rage is an entertaining and thought provoking tale of one student who got fed up with his parents and teachers. We’ve all been there and Stephen King showed us a small slice long before the rest of the world caught up.
4.5 bloody school books out of 5
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