I read a hardback edition of Firestarter.
Genre: Horror, Science fiction
Publisher: HODDER & STOUGHTON
Originally published: September, 1980
Pages: 428 (hardback)
Audiobook length: 14 hrs and 53 mins
Synopsis by the publisher:
Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson participated in a drug experiment run by a veiled government agency known as The Shop. One year later, they marry. Two years later, their little girl, Charlie, sets her teddy bear on fire by simply staring at it.
Now that Charlie is eight, she doesn’t start fires anymore. Her parents have taught her to control her pyrokinesis, the ability to set anything – toys, clothes, even people – aflame. But The Shop knows about and wants this pigtailed “ultimate weapon”. Shop agents set out to hunt down Charlie and her father in a ruthless chase that traverses the streets of New York and the backwoods of Vermont.
Firestarter is one of those Stephen King novels that has been mentioned and recommended to me several times as a King classic. I’ve also talked to several readers who told me that Firestarter was their very first King book.
I stumbled across a first-edition of Firestarter at Mockingbird Used Books last year and I was excited to finally read it myself (even though it stayed on my shelf for a while before I finally got to it).
Firestarter starts with a bang, as Charlie and Andy are on the run from agents from The Shop (a secret government agency).
(✨The Shop is mentioned both in The Stand and The Dark Tower series. It has also been compared to The Institute and the agency is suspected to have a part to play in several other Stephen King stories as well)
And this story is one that never gets boring. Even the passages that are not as action-packed are filled with interesting character development and great storytelling. I know a lot of readers have an issue with some of the King stories dragging out too long and having unnecessary parts in the story, and I think Firestarter is a better choice for those readers.
Its fast pace and overall engaging story will take a hold of you and not let go before the story ends.
Charlie’s pyrokinetic ability is scary on its own, but the really terrifying thing in this story is a secret government agency who sees themselves above the law (isn’t that a secret fear a lot of us carry around with us?), and the terror that grows in Andy as he fears for his daughter’s future, life, and the limits (or possible lack thereof) to her abilities.
My favorite part of this story is the bond between Charlie and Andy, and how it grows with all their experiences throughout the book. Their relationship is the thing that keeps the story going and engages the reader.
Another favorite of mine was the character Rainbird, an agent/assassin of The Shop. He’s the perfect villain in the way that he’s a psychotic and amoral person, but his intelligence and lack of conscience makes for an extremely dangerous character and a whole new level of creepy. And he truly loves Charlie in his very own disturbing way.
Firestarter is one of those King novels that I feel like deserves more attention than it has gotten. It’s a gem of a story with all the right elements of a thrilling psychological horror read, with a dash of science fiction, that will keep you at the edge of your seat.
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