“When you're five and you hurt, you make a big noise in the world. At ten you whimper. But by the time you make fifteen you begin to eat the poisoned apples that grow on your own inner tree of pain.”
'Rage' was the first novel published by Stephen King under the pseudonym Richard Bachman. It's a deviation from his typical Horror novels but that doesn't make it any less horrifying. Published in 1977, it was withdrawn from publication by Stephen King in the late 1990s due to it's connection to a number of real High School shootings, 'Rage' recounts the story of Charlie Decker, a teenage boy pushed to the limits by his father and society itself and shoots two teachers before taking a classroom full of students hostage.
But 'Rage' is more than just the story of a High School shooting. It is an examination of society, of teenage culture. While Charlie holds his school friends hostage, we get a glimpse at the ennui of teenage life, and as they sit in the classroom, waiting for Charlie to let them go or take their lives (we are never quite certain in which direction Charlie will go), they take turns at analyzing their lives, the things they have done, wish they hadn't done. They pick apart their connections to each other, the childhood experiences that made them who they are. And it becomes apparent that perhaps Charlie Decker isn't as crazy as he might seem, that this isn't simply a murder spree. Instead, this forced coming together of a group of teenagers who might otherwise fail to give one another the time of day is a teaching exercise. Charlie is showing these angst-ridden teenagers that it's not too late to take control, to right the wrongs done to them by others.
This novel is fairly philosophical, it raises a lot of questions and doesn't pose too many answers. It's a shame that it is no longer in print as I think it's a pretty enlightening piece of fiction. Although I can understand why it was withdrawn from sale. If you do want to read the book, it can be found in the Amazon.co.uk marketplace for a couple of pound as part of the Bachman Books collection.