Though a reasonably good piece for a teenager to have written (apparently King started writing this as a teenager), a lot of immaturity still shows through.
Despite the fact that I could not manage to build up any empathy with the main character (the killer) Charlie Decker, Charlie simply seemed too normal in his general thought processes to appear phsychotic. He simply came across as a spoilt, extremely immature kid - a product of the typical syndrome of the military father and over-indulgent mother. Many families function like this, though very few of the kids from such families actually pick up guns and go around shooting people, or clobber people over the head with wrenches; indeed - most kids show some resilience - so basically this is a person with no phsychological reserves.
He doesn't seem to quite fit 100% into a pshychopath mold either; - so I'm not sure where King was going (or trying to go) with this character.
In fact, it would seem that King is trying to talk out against discipline, and at the same time condoning hooliganism and destructive behaviour, not to mention murder and violence.
I felt a lot more empathy for the real victim in the story, Ted Jones. The way he is tortured and victimised by the mob on both a psychological and a physical level, left me a with an extremely bad taste in the mouth - was this supposed to be a modern version of aspects of Lord of the Flies?
A lot of the dialogue came across as pretty unrealistic of how people would talk in a crisis situation like this one. Especially the story that Decker recounts of his sexual misadventure while under the influence of marijuana, seemed like a streamlined and polished retelling of an event by a professional writer - and not what must have been a painful recollection of a relatively traumatic (or frustrating and embarassing at the least) event by a teenage boy.
All in all, although the book was an easy read due to King's very accessible style, (and definitely an infinitely more gripping read than Catcher in the Rye), I'm giving it only 2 stars due to the plain mean-spiritedness of character that shines through on every page, not to mention the trivialisation of (and even glimmers of glorification of) cruelty and violence.
EDIT: I've slept on it, and I think I need to downgrade my rating to a 1. The more I think of the callous way that the subject of the death of 2 teachers and torture of an already beleaugered boy is treated, the more I want to give the book a zero.