First edition cover
Author(s) Stephen King Cover artist Gerry Grace Country United States Language English Genre(s) Horror novel Publisher Viking Publication date April 29, 1983 Media type Print (Hardcover) Pages 526 ISBN 978-0670220267 Preceded by Cujo Followed by Pet Sematary
Christine is a horror novel by Stephen King, published in 1983. It tells the story of a vintage automobile apparently possessed by supernatural forces. Later that same year, a film adaptation, directed by John Carpenter and starring Keith Gordon, John Stockwell, Alexandra Paul, and Harry Dean Stanton, was released.
In 1978, while riding home from work with his friend Dennis, nerdy teen Arnold "Arnie" Cunningham spots a dilapidated red and white 1958 Plymouth Fury sitting in front of a house. Arnie makes Dennis stop so he can examine the car, despite Dennis' attempt to talk Arnie out of it. The car's owner, Roland D. LeBay, an elderly gentleman wearing a back supporter, offers to sell the car (named "Christine") to Arnie for $250. Unable to pay the full amount, Arnie gives LeBay a $25 deposit and agrees to return the next day with the balance.
The two teens return the following day, and LeBay invites Arnie into his house to sign the paperwork. While waiting for Arnie, Dennis decides to sit inside Christine, and as he does, he has a vision of the car and the surroundings as they were in 1958 when the car was new. Frightened, Dennis gets out of Christine, and decides that he does not like his pal's new car.
Arnie brings Christine to a do-it-yourself auto repair facility run by Will Darnell, who is suspected of having many illicit business operations. As Arnie restores the automobile, he becomes withdrawn, yet more confident and self-assured. However, he also becomes humorless and cynical, and Dennis is puzzled by the sudden changes in both his friend and Christine. The repair work proceeds haphazardly, and not all of the repairs seem to be done by Arnie. No one has ever witnessed him performing more than minor repairs and routine maintenance on the car. Also, Arnie's appearance improves in tandem with Christine's. When LeBay dies, Dennis meets his younger brother George, who relates to him Roland's past violent behavior. He is also told that LeBay's young daughter choked to death on a hamburger in the back seat of the car, and that LeBay's wife was so traumatized that she apparently committed suicide in its front seat by carbon monoxide poisoning. As time passes, Dennis observes that Arnie is taking on many of LeBay's personality traits.
When Arnie is almost finished restoring Christine, an attractive new student named Leigh Cabot transfers to the high school. She becomes instantly popular and is regarded as the school beauty, and her decision to go out with Arnie puzzles everyone. While on a date with Arnie, she nearly chokes to death on a hamburger and is saved only by the intervention of a hitchhiker who uses the Heimlich Maneuver. Leigh notices that Christine's dashboard lights seem to have become glaring green eyes, watching her during the incident, and that Arnie tried to save her by ineffectually pounding her on the back. She begins to believe that she and Christine are competing for Arnie's affection, and she vows to never get into the car again.
Arnie's mother refuses to let him keep Christine at home, so his father buys him a pass for the airport parking lot, thinking that this will force Arnie to use the car only when absolutely necessary. Soon afterward, Buddy Repperton, a vicious bully whom Arnie and Dennis have gotten expelled from high school, and his gang of thugs vandalize the car. This incident unbalances Arnie even more and he plans to fix Christine again; however, as he pushes it through Darnell's garage/junkyard, the car quickly repairs itself. He strains his back in the process and begins wearing a brace all the time, as LeBay did, and his relationship with Leigh crumbles.
A number of inexplicable car-related deaths begin to occur around town, starting with Buddy and all but one of his accomplices in the vandalism. Arnie has an airtight alibi in each case, but the police become suspicious of him. Although they find evidence linking Christine to the scene of each death, none is found on the car itself. Christine is piloting herself to commit these murders and repairing herself after each one. Eventually she also kills Darnell, a police detective working the cases, and Arnie's father.
Arnie becomes increasingly obsessed with Christine, forgetting Leigh entirely, and she and Dennis begin their own relationship and unearth details of both Christine's and LeBay's past. They devise a plan to destroy the car and, if possible, save Arnie. Once Arnie is out of town, Dennis and Leigh lure Christine to Darnell's garage and batter it into junk using a septic tanker truck. The remains are later put through a car crusher, and Dennis learns that Arnie and his mother were both killed in a highway accident. Witness accounts lead Dennis to believe that LeBay's spirit - strongly bound to Christine, and through her to Arnie - had torn itself away and caused the wreck.
Four years later, Dennis reflects on these events and what has happened since then. He and Leigh have parted after attending college together, and he is now a junior high school history teacher. He learns about a freak car accident in Los Angeles, in which a movie theater employee - possibly the last surviving member of Buddy's gang - was struck and killed by a car that smashed in through the theater wall. Horror-stricken, Dennis speculates that Christine may have rebuilt herself and set out to kill everyone else who stood against her, saving him for last.
- "His single-minded purpose.
- His unending fury."
- Christine, a 1983 film adaptation
- The Car, a 1977 film about a killer car
- From a Buick 8 (2002), another novel by Stephen King about a mysterious car
- "You Drive", an episode of The Twilight Zone
- USA, Viking Press ISBN 0-670-22026-4 (cloth text, 1983)
- USA, Donald M. Grant, Publisher, Inc. ISBN 0-937986-41-0 (hardcover, limited, slipcased and signed by author and artist, 1983)
- USA, Tandem Library Books ISBN 0-606-00784-9 (prebound, 1983)
- USA, New American Library ISBN 0-451-12838-9 (paperback, 1983)
- Spain, Plaza & Janés ISBN 84-01-49889-9 (hardcover, 1992)
- Spain, Plaza & Janés ISBN 84-01-49967-4 (hardcover, 1999)
- USA, Thorndike Press ISBN 0-7862-2631-5 (hardcover, 2000)
- USA, Signet Books ISBN 0-451-16044-4 (paperback, 2004)
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