This is a famously hard book to find. Due to an association with several high profile school shootings in the late 80s and early 90s, the book was taken out of print. For awhile you could still get it as part of The Bachman Books, but it has since been removed from that collection also. Thank God, for it ended our long national nightmare and no school shootings have happened since.
Now that the sarcasm is out of the way, I will admit to being perturbed at the difficulty in getting this to read. Fortunately, I was able to purchase an older edition of The Bachman Books that contained it, and for the not-at-all reasonable price of 60 dollars. All so I could read a less-than-stellar book that is overly linked to similar real-life events.
And I cannot emphasize enough that this is not a good book. It's readable, thanks to King's character work, but only insofar that the characters are interesting, but not explored that well.
The novel loses me fairly early, when Charlie Decker, whose viewpoint we follow through almost the entirety of the story, shoots two teachers and only one student screams while the others are silent. None of them try to escape or run or in any way act like normal people do during such an event. The entire class just calmly sits there.
Now, I understand that King wanted to have people there for Charlie to use as a kind of therapy group, but it reads false right from the start. And that false start permeates every interaction throughout. The slap fight between two girls that Charlie forces is resolved with no explanation, and the climax, where the entire class attacks another student, makes no sense. At no point does King illuminate why Ted Jones, a popular student who recently quit the football team, would suddenly be set upon by his classmates. While a type of Stockholm Syndrome comes about in the room (with only Ted unaffected), there is no build to the final confrontation. It just happens so the novel can end.
Released under the pseudonym Richard Bachman, this was apparently King's first written novel, though I can understand why it wasn't initially published. Carrie explores stigmatization in high school much better.
Movie?: None, probably because of the school shooting association.
Dark Tower?: No, though I doubt any of the early Bachman titles will be associated with the series.
Child Deaths?: Surprisingly, no. The only deaths are the two teachers at the beginning.
Penis Talk?: A girl talks about her boyfriend's penis and a random stranger she picked up at a bar.