Rage by Richard Bachman / Stephen King Review

is quite possibly one of the most controversial works that Stephen King has written to date, though it didn’t start out that way.

The story surrounds Charlie Decker, a senior in high school, who one day decides to bring a gun to school and shoot a teacher, Mrs. Underwood. However, in the course of the events that take place directly after the shooting of Mrs. Underwood, he also shoots another teacher, Mr. Vance, who unsuspectingly walks into Mrs. Underwood’s room.

As the police converge on the high school, Charlie Decker takes his fellow students hostage, forcing them to admit to their shortcomings and apologize to the students they’ve “wronged” in a sort of maniacal precursor to John Hughes’ The Breakfast Club. It’s only Charlie’s locker padlock being conveniently left in his pocket that saves him from being taken down by the police that surround the school.

King let the novel lapse from its final printing after the book was linked with two school shootings and other parallels were found within the Columbine shootings in 1999. At one particular school shooting, a copy of the novel was found within the assailant’s locker, which was most likely the catalyst for King letting the book fall out of print. It’s rumored that one student even quoted the book during one of the school shootings connected with the novel.

As the novel was originally published under King’s pseudonym, Richard Bachman, the novel was later included in a compilation titled, , which also included Road Work, The Running Man, and The Long Walk. All three have since been published as separate novels. However, Rage remains out of print.

Copies of are easy enough to find through used booksellers, though you might have to pay a bit more for them than you’d pay for a new paperback. However, for those fans who are curious about the story that later haunted Stephen King, you might find the novel interesting and, as always, a wee bit eerie in an entirely different way than most of King’s other works.

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