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Firestarter

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This a previously-published edition of ISBN 0451167805.

The Department of Scientific Intelligence (aka "The Shop") never anticipated that two participants in their research program would marry and have a child. Charlie McGee inherited pyrokinetic powers from her parents, who had been given a low-grade hallucinogen called "Lot Six" while at college. Now the government is trying to capture young Charlie and harness her powerful firestarting skills as a weapon.
--stephenking.com

403 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published September 29, 1980

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About the author

Stephen King

2,689 books819k followers
Stephen Edwin King was born the second son of Donald and Nellie Ruth Pillsbury King. After his father left them when Stephen was two, he and his older brother, David, were raised by his mother. Parts of his childhood were spent in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where his father's family was at the time, and in Stratford, Connecticut. When Stephen was eleven, his mother brought her children back to Durham, Maine, for good. Her parents, Guy and Nellie Pillsbury, had become incapacitated with old age, and Ruth King was persuaded by her sisters to take over the physical care of them. Other family members provided a small house in Durham and financial support. After Stephen's grandparents passed away, Mrs. King found work in the kitchens of Pineland, a nearby residential facility for the mentally challenged.

Stephen attended the grammar school in Durham and Lisbon Falls High School, graduating in 1966. From his sophomore year at the University of Maine at Orono, he wrote a weekly column for the school newspaper, THE MAINE CAMPUS. He was also active in student politics, serving as a member of the Student Senate. He came to support the anti-war movement on the Orono campus, arriving at his stance from a conservative view that the war in Vietnam was unconstitutional. He graduated in 1970, with a B.A. in English and qualified to teach on the high school level. A draft board examination immediately post-graduation found him 4-F on grounds of high blood pressure, limited vision, flat feet, and punctured eardrums.

He met Tabitha Spruce in the stacks of the Fogler Library at the University, where they both worked as students; they married in January of 1971. As Stephen was unable to find placement as a teacher immediately, the Kings lived on his earnings as a laborer at an industrial laundry, and her student loan and savings, with an occasional boost from a short story sale to men's magazines.

Stephen made his first professional short story sale ("The Glass Floor") to Startling Mystery Stories in 1967. Throughout the early years of his marriage, he continued to sell stories to men's magazines. Many were gathered into the Night Shift collection or appeared in other anthologies.

In the fall of 1971, Stephen began teaching English at Hampden Academy, the public high school in Hampden, Maine. Writing in the evenings and on the weekends, he continued to produce short stories and to work on novels.

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5 stars
68,961 (31%)
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57,525 (26%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,893 reviews
Profile Image for Mario the lone bookwolf.
795 reviews3,612 followers
October 4, 2020
We don´t need no water, let the pyrokinesis burn, burn one hotter with obsessive compulsive forced washing mysophobia, burn.

The, at the time of publishing still hot, cold war spy conspiracy secret agency setting with the human free drugs experimentation background, makes it a suspenseful read, especially as it escalates towards more complexity than in other of King´s works, especially including a kind of meta level, not focusing on the local dread and terror or cosmic horror, but on the consequences superpowers could lead to in real life.

This makes it kind of untypical, one doesn´t fear the protagonists or a mysterious, paranormal activity, but the consequences of the decisions of the puppetmasters in the background, making it a psychological thriller that uses the character´s abilities to create suspenseful scenarios and fuses plot and character. Something the mainstream superhero genre should possibly once restart considering when including psi abilities because it has enormous potential for completely fresh ideas from romance to horror.

Sharp, direct, and switching between different plotlines, also not usual for King, this is one of his underappreciated, early masterpieces. Maybe, instead of including the cold war setting, it could have been changed to a general military government conglomerate world domination conspiracy setting, because the idea of having kind of superheroes in such a scenario was, in a book, fresh in these days.

King´s novel The Institue is a darker, horrible continuation of this idea, leading to the uncomfortable, final, often asked, and never answered question how big the real secret human experimentation complex, next to the secret prisons, secret killings, secret special black operation forces, etc. might be. Thousands, tens of thousands, or hundreds of thousands? Millions may be a bit exaggerated over the top, but it might be a few superheroes and many average people getting special, potentially fatal final treatments by their governments to breed übersoldiers.

Fun fact: King told in an interview how his wife owned him by saying something like this: "You wrote Misery about a man in a bed together with a crazy woman. Then you wrote Gerald´s game about a woman tied to a bed. Next, you´ll write a novel about a couch without anything happening." When I first saw the plot description I couldn´t resist thinking of her ingenuity in pointing the finger at the fact that her husband truly has a tendency to rererecyle ceratin ideas and topics, as in this case, Carrie with fire. But hey, he is the King, he has the right to do whatever he wishes.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...
Profile Image for Regina.
1,136 reviews3,003 followers
October 25, 2021
For those of you who have never read one of his books, may I suggest Firestarter as your Stephen King starter? A bit of King kindling, if you will.

Published in 1980, Firestarter’s first issue clocked in at 428 pages. It’s beefy enough not to be just a novella, yet it’s not a doorstoppin’ chunkster like many of books. It definitely fits the classification of horror without being too gory or scary (in my high-tolerant opinion). And it’s pretty darn entertaining.

The story is about a young girl, Charlie, who has the extraordinary ability to make things burst into flames. Her pyrokinesis was a result of the coupling of her parents, two participants in an experimental government study. Charlie and her dad Andy are initially on the run from the secret agency behind the experiment, but the bulk of the novel takes place after they’ve been caught. The agency (“The Shop”) wants to understand Charlie’s power so they can weaponize it. Chaos ensues, and… you guessed it! Fires are started.

Firestarter was one of the few King paperbacks I read in my youth. I have a very vivid memory of reading it in the backseat of our family truckster on a road trip to Ohio, with me rockin’ my new Guess jeans and Gap plaid button down. I also clearly remember a scene where Charlie takes a freezing shower to punish herself for not being able to control her powers. To this day, I think of it every time I turn on the cold blast to lock in whatever shine and moisture is still left in my hair after washing. It was fun to revisit the book and see that the scene actually happened and wasn’t just a figment of my (mis-)imagination.

Parting thoughts! Sorry to report that horses die in this book. Also sorry to report that in writing this review I discovered that a film remake is in the works starring Zac Efron as Charlie’s dad. Man does that make me feel old.

Blog: https://www.confettibookshelf.com/
Profile Image for Anne.
3,918 reviews69.3k followers
January 19, 2020
Buddy Read with my pal, The Jeff.

description

I don't think the scariest thing about this book is the fact that this tiny kid has the power to potentially crack the Earth in half.
Don't get me wrong...the thought of that curls my toes.
The genius of this book is that your fear builds with the father's fear.

description

And it's not the fear of simply being captured. He fears what all of this is doing to his daughter, and he fears what he has had to do to his daughter in order to keep her safe from herself.
The part that really got to me was when he had to hold up her charred teddy bear to her when she was a toddler and tell her that she was very bad for doing this to Teddy. You could almost smell his guilt and desperation just coming off the pages.
He didn't want to yell at his little girl, but he had to make her afraid and ashamed of what had happened. Otherwise, the next time she got angry and threw a tantrum it might not just be a stuffed animal that went up in flames.
If you've ever been in extreme circumstances like that with your child then I think it will gut-punch you to read that.


The creation of The Shop was an especially nice touch by King.
It's (I believe) everyone's secret fear that there's some unknown government agency out there that doesn't have to conform to The Rules.
The scientists and field agents were also chilling in that they were just doing their job without much thought to the moral ramifications.

description

And Rainbird?
Dear God, that guy was a whole new level of creepy!
Partially, because he really did love Charlie in his own sick way.
He sees Charlie for who she is and what she can become, and he's proud of her. He felt that she was his, and he was willing to patiently wait for her to trust him.
And as disgusting as he was, for the most part, he was dead-on in his assessment of her.
Honestly, that was the scariest thing about Rainbird. You want to believe that if someone is psychotic and amoral, then they're also missing the things that would allow them to correctly read other people. In Rainbird's case, his lack of conscience just let him see through the bullshit and get to the core of the individual.
He was truly a chilling character.

You know going into it that not everyone is getting out of this alive but for a King novel...
I thought it had a pretty happy ending.

description
Profile Image for Baba.
3,560 reviews856 followers
February 1, 2021
Heartbreaking story of a family decimated, chased and persecuted… because they have 'powers'. Bristling with memorable characters such as Cap, Rainbird, the Manders and The Shop. Some good ol' classic King. Stephen King invented the now widely used term of pyrokinesis in this book! I used to get annoyed about how little The Shop was uded in the Stephen King universe, but now accept King generally has a good idea of how much or little to use his creations - The Shop is still essentially a one-trick pony (a great pony), no matter how much I like the concept. 9 out of 12.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
235 reviews205 followers
October 28, 2021
“It’s gonna be all right,” he told her, not really believing it, knowing as every adult knows in his secret heart that nothing is really all right, ever. “It’s gonna be all right.”

Firestarter is the story of Andrew and Charlie McGee, a father and daughter on the run from a government agency known as The Shop. During his college years, Andy participated in a Shop experiment dealing with "Lot 6", a drug with hallucinogenic effects similar to LSD. The drug gave his future wife, Victoria Tomlinson, minor telekinetic and telepathic abilities, and him an autohypnotic mind domination ability he refers to as "the Push". Both his and Vicky's powers are physiologically limited; in his case, overuse of the Push gives him crippling migraine headaches and minute brain hemorrhages, but their daughter Charlie developed a frightening pyrokinetic ability, with the full extent of her power unknown. After a mistake was made by Shop agents, Vicky was killed and Charlie was taken, but Andy, using the Push, managed to reclaim her and the pair have been on the run ever since….

This is classic Stephen King. The characters are well developed and their presence leaps off the page. Quite fast paced in the beginning but slows down as the story unravels. There is an undertone of horror and SciFi, plenty of action, and an imaginative storyline involving enough conspiracy to provide mystery without going too over the top.

Firestarter is a moving, upsetting, sad and engaging story. It really tugged on my heartstrings. Charlie is a regular kid with a very irregular power. I was happy to see that even though she had this immense power and could do virtually anything she wanted, she still loved and tried to obey her father and she still cared for the animals. In one of the final scenes, when Charlie really lets her power loose, the heat and damage are overwhelming and the details were amazing. I liked the fact that if they had not forced her to practice her power, she might not have been able to do as much damage. At this point, she was melting bullets in addition to blowing up cars with no problem. Fantastic story.

Highly Recommend 👌🏻
Profile Image for Dan Schwent.
2,925 reviews10.6k followers
July 15, 2016
When some cash-poor college students volunteer for an experiment, they have no idea of the Pandora's Box they are about to unleash. Years later, one of them, Andy McGee, is on the run from The Shop, with his daughter, Charlie. Can Andy and Charlie evade The Shop before their world goes up in flames?

First off, for years now, I cannot read the title without hearing the Prodigy song of the same name. Maybe he'll follow this one up with a book called Fuel my Fire or Smack My Bitch Up one of these days to continue along the same lines.

Firestarter is one of those Stephen King books you don't hear all that much about. A lot of people only know of it because of the movie starring Drew Barrymore in the 1980s. Well, more people should know about it because it's a corking good read.

A 1960s experiment gave Andy McGee and his wife psychic powers. It also altered their DNA enough to produce Charlie, their immensely powerful psychic daughter, whose abilities include pyrokinesis, hence the title.

For a good portion of the book, the suspense comes from Andy trying to stay one step ahead of The Shop. The rest of it is the two McGees trying to escape The Shop's clutches. The Shop, and John Rainbird, make fantastic villains because they aren't nearly as far outside the realm of possibility as evil cars and spider-clowns.

Like a lot of Stephen King books, the relationships between the characters keep the story going. John Rainbird proved to be more than the scene-chewing villain I originally pegged him as. Unlike the protagonists in Doctor Sleep, I feared for Charlie and Andy almost constantly.

I'd forgotten how brutal King was sometimes in his older books. There are some parts of this one I'll remember for a long time. Maybe Stephen King will revisit a character or two from this book before he goes to the clearing at the end of the path, maybe as part of a Dark Tower story.

As I said before, this is a very underrated King book. I don't really have anything bad to say about it. Four out of five stars.
Profile Image for Johann (jobis89).
643 reviews4,263 followers
October 21, 2018
"You're a firestarter, honey... just one big Zippo lighter."

Andy and Vicky McGee take part in a top-secret government experiment, gaining psychic powers. Then they have a daughter - Charlie. Charlie demonstrates even more power than her parents and they must keep her abilities secret, as the government wants Charlie back.

Firestarter was one of the few "classic" Kings I had left to read (I had never watched the movie either), and yet I wasn't particularly excited about it, it seemed like a Carrie-knockoff almost! When I pulled it out of my King TBR jar for my October read, I was admittedly slightly disappointed... but this is one of the very few instances where I'm happy to admit that I was DEAD WRONG. Firestarter is fucking awesome!

King is no stranger to writing about abusive child/parent relationships (Jack and Danny Torrance in The Shining, Bev and her father in IT, to name a couple), so it's a nice change when King explores a sweet and loving relationship between the two. The connection and bond between Charlie and her father Andy was really sweet. However, if I'm honest, I found Andy's psychic abilities more interesting than Charlie's, so I really enjoyed those parts where Andy could show what he's capable of (even if it was detrimental to his own health - but again, this just perfectly demonstrates his paternal love for Charlie).

A lot of King novels can be slow-burners (which I am a fan of) but this one moves at a relentless pace from the very first page. It really demonstrates that whilst King can be a tad wordy at times, he is also capable of writing page-turners with very little filler! I loved how the mental powers of telekinesis and pyrokinesis were used in the story - when you set these against the backdrop of a nasty government trying to protect its secret, Firestarter really packs a punch!

I can't help but wonder if this book would have worked better if it was structured in chronological order, as opposed to jumping back and forth between the past and present day. It might have worked better if it built up to Charlie and Andy being on the run. But that's just a minor nitpick.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this one. This would be a good starting place for people trying to get into King - particularly if you're a fan of Stranger Things. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Nilufer Ozmekik.
2,199 reviews40.7k followers
June 27, 2022
I keep rereading my favorite King books on weekends as a ritual. Firestarter was not my favorite work of him. Interestingly I’ve seen the original movie first ( honest advise: don’t you think to watch Peacock’s Efron version, that will ruin the entire premise for you)

I was little kid and watching girl from the E. T. ejecting out fire through her eyes was the coolest thing to watch for me! Even cooler than Carrie’s telekinesis power!

Then I read the book a few years later and I love Charlie, her relationship with her devoted father who risks his life to protect her girl! That was epic, action packed, exciting journey!

After nearly 3 decades later, I’m repeating my routine and rereading this book, later rewatching Barrymore’s version of the movie.
I recommend you to do the same if you have enough time to get lost in this action packed, supernatural, fast pacing, gripping, dark journey!
Profile Image for Matthew.
1,219 reviews8,826 followers
August 4, 2019
This was an audio re-read – I last read this probably 15 to 20 years ago. My original remembered review was 3 stars and it will remain the same. I always hope the second time will be better and it will move up to 4 or 5 stars, but that just doesn’t always happen.

Can I confidently say why I am not going higher? I give a few examples below, but it is more of a feeling . . . a feeling that did not break as I worked my way through the book. I kept hoping for moments that would make me wonder why I only remembered it as a 3 star book - there just really were not any. As I have been working my way through re-reading King’s books, this is the first one that felt just okay.

Over the course of the story, not much really happens and a lot of plot points are rehashed. The characters are fine, but not as intricate or interesting as a Jack Torrance, Randall Flagg, or Johnny Smith. Charlie McGee feels like a bit of a rehashing of Carrie White. For me, the pursuit in the first half of the book was much better than the second half, which felt just flat after the climatic moments early on in the story.

Many people will ask, “what King do I recommend they start with?” Lots of King readers recommend early King, and Firestarter falls into that category. Also, as it led to a somewhat famous film in the 1980s (at least cult famous), people might think that Firestarter meets all the criteria for a great starting point. I cannot say that I agree. There are much better options – ‘Salems Lot, The Dead Zone, Pet Sematary, The Shining - and, The Stand if you want to jump in feet first and sink up to your neck. King has released around 60 novels, and I don’t think Firestarter would even rank in my top 30. I would likely only recommend it if you are trying to work your way through all of King’s works.
Profile Image for Michael || TheNeverendingTBR.
467 reviews161 followers
October 10, 2021
"𝙔𝙤𝙪'𝙧𝙚 𝙖 𝙛𝙞𝙧𝙚𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙧𝙩𝙚𝙧 𝙝𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙮...𝙟𝙪𝙨𝙩 𝙤𝙣𝙚 𝙗𝙞𝙜 𝙕𝙞𝙥𝙥𝙤 𝙡𝙞𝙜𝙝𝙩𝙚𝙧." 🔥


This was so damn good, I was hooked from the start!

Very well written as usual from the King and the characters were very likeable.

The next time I read this, I'd like to take my time with it because it's such a comfort read.

The adaptation of it was on-point as well and stuck to the subject matter.
Profile Image for Joe Valdez.
485 reviews808 followers
January 19, 2020
Pushing four paperbacks across the counter of the Mission Viejo Public Library last week, all by the same author, the librarian asked me, sarcastically, "Do you like Stephen King?" My response was that I'd just returned Misery and three books by other authors, but the only one I didn't quit within 10 pages was King's. Volunteering for Elizabeth Warren since August, I've written only fitfully but experiencing Paul Sheldon duel with Annie Wilkes on the page, felt my creative pilot light click on. When you question whether creative writing or any art is in you anymore, you have to go back to what inspired you in the first place. For me, Stephen King is one of those sources.

Published in 1980, Firestarter begins with an English instructor and all-around nice guy who has a gift (hey, just like Stevie King!) named Andy McGee and his 8-year-old daughter Charlie McGee busted flat on the streets of Manhattan, fleeing from agents of the "Department of Scientific Intelligence," known as the Shop. Using just enough of what he thinks of as a "push" to make a dollar bill appear as a five-hundred dollar bill to a cabbie, father and daughter head for the Albany airport, with Andy suffering debilitating migraines as a side effect of his mental domination ability.

Andy's mind wanders back to 1969 and his senior year at "Harrison State College" in Ohio, when in need of cash, he volunteers for a psych experiment in need of student volunteers for tests of a low-grade hallucinogen. Assured by his roommate that the experiments are completely safe and he'll probably land in the control group anyway, Andy meets a sunny blonde named Vicky Tomlinson, whose soon-to-be-ex-boyfriend forbid her from participating in the experiment. Interned in one of the campus lecture halls with ten other students for 48-hour monitoring, Andy and Vicky quickly surmise they're not part of any control group but have been dosed with the ominous Lot Six.

"How you feeling, guy?" the GA asked, but of course he wasn't a GA, he wasn't a student, none of them were. For one thing, he looked about thirty-five, and was a little long in the tooth for a graduate student. For another, this guy worked for The Shop. Andy suddenly knew it. It was absurd, but he knew it. And the man's name was ...

Andy groped for it, and he got it. The man's name was Ralph Baxter.

He smiled. Ralph Baxter. Good deal.

"I feel okay," he said. "How's that other fella?"

"What other fella's that, Andy?"

"The one who clawed his eyes out," Andy said serenely.

Ralph Baxter smiled and patted Andy's hand. "Pretty visual stuff, huh, guy?"

"No, really," Vicky said. "I saw it, too."

"You think you did," the GA who was not a GA said. "You just shared the same illusion. There was a guy over there by the board who had a muscular reaction ... something like a charley horse. No clawed eyes. No blood."

He started away again.

Andy said, "My man, it is impossible to share the same illusion without some prior consultation." He felt immensely clever. The logic was impeccable, inarguable. He had old Ralph Baxter by the shorts.

Ralph smiled back, undaunted. "With this drug, it's very possible," he said. "I'll be back in a bit, okay?"

"Okay, Ralph," Andy said.

Ralph paused and came back toward where Andy lay on his cot. He came back in slomo. He looked thoughtfully down at Andy. Andy grinned back, a wide, foolish, drugged-out grin. Got you there, Ralph old son. Got you right by the proverbial shorts. Suddenly a wealth of information about Ralph Baxter flooded in on him, tons of stuff: he was thirty-five, he had been with the Shop for six years, before that he'd been with the FBI for two years, he had--


He had killed four people during his career, three men and one woman. And he had raped the woman after she was dead. She had been an AP stringer and she had known about--

That part wasn't clear. And it didn't matter. Suddenly, Andy didn't want to know. The grin faded from his lips. Ralph Baxter was still looking down at him, and Andy was swept by a black paranoia that he remembered from his two previous LSD trips .. but this was deeper and much more frightening. He had no idea how he could know such things about Ralph Baxter--or how he had known his name at all--but if he told Ralph that he knew, he was terribly afraid that he might disappear from Room 70 of Jason Gearneigh with the same swiftness as the boy who had clawed his eyes out. Or maybe all of that really had been a hallucination; it didn't seem real at all now.


Arriving at the Albany airport only slightly ahead of their hunters, Andy is almost immobile. He manages to compel Charlie to use her special gift, which her parents have spent most of her life training her to reject, to crack open a few telephone booths for loose change. Using her mind to do so, Charlie inadvertently taps into the mind of an army soldier on leave and not liking the lies he's selling his girlfriend on the phone, sets his shoes on fire. Fleeing the airport on foot, Charlie is repulsed by her act, which brings to mind the time she accidentally set her mother's hands on fire.

In the suburban Washington D.C. neighborhood of "Longmont, Virginia," the Shop's director "Cap" Hollister monitors the McGee manhunt and reviews the Lot Six files. Of the twelve 1969 test subjects, two died in a short period of time, two went insane and earned themselves lifetime membership at the Shop's "retreat" in Maui and two ultimately committed suicide. Over the years, three more have taken their lives, while another has been regarded as being completely tapped out. This left Andy and Vicky, the only test subjects to marry and produce a child. Cap faces the end of his career due to his inability to study the McGee child.

Cap reaches out to the Shop's most loathsome agent, a seven-foot tall Native American named John Rainbird scarred in Vietnam by a Claymore mine that exploded in his face. Rainbird has hacked the Shop's computer network and knows all about Charlie McGee, believed to be pyrokinetic. Obsessed by the mystery of death, Rainbird fixates on gaining Charlie's trust, befriending her and then killing her, up close and personal, even if it means sealing his own fate. Tracked to a family cabin in Vermont, the McGees are finally captured. Interned at the Shop, Charlie gradually opens up to the kindly disfigured janitor named John (a monster, just like her!) who cleans her apartment and convinces her to participate in the Shop's tests in exchange for visiting her father.

She shoved as hard as she could at the tray of woodchips. They did not so much burst into flames as explode. A moment later the tray itself flipped over twice, spraying chunks of burning wood, and clanged off the wall hard enough to leave a dimple in the sheet steel.

The technician who had been monitoring at the EEG cried out in fear and made a sudden, crazy dash for the door. The sound of his cry hurled Charlie suddenly back in time to the Albany airport. It was the cry of Eddie Delgardo, running to the ladies' bathroom with his army-issue shoes in flames.

She thought in sudden terror and exaltation,
Oh God it's gotten so much stronger!

The steel wall had developed a strange, dark ripple. The room had become explosively hot. In the other room, the digital thermometer, which had gone from seventy degrees to eighty and then paused, now climbed rapidly past ninety to ninety-four before slowing down.

Charlie threw the firething at the tub; she was nearly panicked now. The water swirled, then broke into a fury of bubbles. In a space of five seconds, the contents of the tub went from cool to a rolling, steaming boil.

The technician had exited, leaving the testing-room door heedlessly ajar. In the observation room there was a sudden, startled turmoil. Hockstetter was bellowing. Cap was standing gape-jawed at the window, watching the tubful of water boil. Clouds of steam rose from it and then one-way glass began to fog over. Only Rainbird was clam, smiling, slightly, hands clasped behind his back. he looked like a teacher whose star pupil has used difficult postulates to solve a particularly aggravating problem.

(
back off!)

Screaming in her mind.

(
back off! back off! BACK OFF!)

Writing my review of Firestarter for Goodreads in June 2014, I wrote, "In a few years, I want to remember this novel being just as fantastic as it is." Defying all logic, it is. The trope of Freaks on the Run from secret government agency has been done to death, but King pushes fresh air down that corridor. King's freaks aren't born special, they're designed that way by an experiment gone awry, bonding and falling in love over their experience. Half the novel is a fugitive story but the second half switches gears into a prison break story. The Shop--all the worst of the FBI, CIA or horror movie mad scientist--make compelling villains and some of my favorite parts of the book involve the institutional politics of the lab.

Firestarter is also a supremely well done work of paranoid chills, a product of a post-Vietnam and post-Watergate world where government labs cook up stranger and stranger drugs or technologies, often testing them on unsuspecting citizens, or an American whose name ends up on a watchlist can never be sure if he's being watched, recorded, followed or about to be snatched up and disappeared. This, more so than psychic power, is the foundation of Firestarter, but I also felt as if King, a father of three young children, was writing from a legitimate fear of a child whose tantrums could bathe the walls, or your hair, in flame, bringing a far greater urgency to toilet training.

King's chokehold on the New York Times bestseller list launched a feature film adaptation in 1984 with Drew Barrymore in the title role (her E.T. co-star Henry Thomas was in theaters a few weeks later with his own movie, the espionage thriller Cloak and Dagger and I don't know what became of Robert MacNaughton). Barrymore is well cast but the director stages many of the book's best scenes without any of the dread King conjures on the page. In the book, characters have watched the late show and greet the story's paranormal elements with a welcome dose of "Comeon, my man--" but the movie ignores that, focusing on special effects and reducing the characters to fx.

Profile Image for Blaine.
748 reviews608 followers
November 9, 2021
I love Stephen King, but somehow had never read Firestarter before now, probably because I saw the movie as a kid. It's got all the hallmarks of an early King novel: good, straightforward story and several well-developed characters, especially Charlie and her father.

Firestarter is not as layered or nuanced as his later stories, but it's still good. If you've never read a Stephen King novel, this wouldn't be my first choice (that would be either The Shining or The Stand). But if you're a fan that somehow skipped over this one like I did, Firestarter is worth the time.
Profile Image for Ahmad Sharabiani.
9,566 reviews56.6k followers
September 18, 2020
Firestarter, Stephen King

Firestarter is a science fiction-horror thriller novel by Stephen King, first published in September 1980. Andy and Charlene "Charlie" McGee are a father/daughter pair on the run from a government agency known as The Shop.

During his college years, Andy had participated in a Shop experiment dealing with "Lot 6", a drug with hallucinogenic effects similar to LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide). The drug gave his future wife, Victoria Tomlinson, minor telekinetic abilities and him a telepathic form of mind control he refers to as "the push".

They both also developed telepathic abilities. Andy's and Vicky's powers were physiologically limited; in his case, overuse of the push gives him crippling migraine headaches and minute brain hemorrhages, but their daughter Charlie developed frightening psychokinetic ability. ...

تاریخ نخستین خوانش: سال 1998 میلادی

عنوان: ‬‬آت‍ش‌اف‍روز؛ ن‍وی‍س‍ن‍ده‌ اس‍ت‍ف‍ن‌ ک‍ی‍ن‍گ‌؛ م‍ت‍رج‍م‌: م‍ح‍م‍د ش‍رف‍ی‌؛ ت‍ه‍ران‌ درس‍ا‏‫، 1376؛ در 567ص؛ ‬موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان ایالات متحده آمریکا - سده 20م

نخست یک مرد و زن، سوژه هایی پژوهشهای فوق سری دولت، برای افزایش توانیهای فیزیکی بدن انسان هستند؛ پس از آن، این دو با یکدیگر ازدواج میکنند، و صاحب یک دختر میشوند؛ دختر علائم یک نیروی باور نکردنی، و فراانسانی را، از خود نشان میدهد، و والدینش کوشش میکنند، تا به او یاد دهند، تا تواناییش را مهار، و عادی رفتار کند؛ اما دولت بزودی به توانایی دختر، پی خواهد برد؛ داستان «‌آتش‌افروز» نخستین بار در سال 1980میلادی منتشر شد، داستان درباره ی دختربچه‌ ای با توانایی ایجاد آتش به وسیله ذهن خویش است

تاریخ بهنگام رسانی 27/06/1399هجری خورشیدی؛ ا. شربیانی
Profile Image for Matt.
3,725 reviews12.8k followers
July 25, 2020
Needing a little King horror in my life, I turned to this classic piece by the author who never seems to run out of ideas. While he was ‘banned’ in my house growing up, I have come to find out just how masterful King can be and his varied ideas keep me coming back for more. Andy McGee and his daughter are on the run from a ruthless group of government agents, call The Shop. The McGees crept under the radar not long after Andy’s wife was killed and young Charlie was sought by The Shop for their own greedy reasons. With flashbacks to years ago, the reader learns that Andy and his eventual wife, Vicky, were part of an experiment in college, where a government group injected them with a drug. This drug was said to aid in the creation of telekinetic powers, though for many it was useless, as the ‘high’ counteracted any usefulness. The Lot 6 experiments were shelved, but the patients were closely monitors, perhaps to keep them silent. However Andy and Vicky were not only successful, but also fell in love, married, and had a child of their own. Now, Charlie presents with new and even more interesting powers, pyro-kinesis, which allows her to set fires at will. This is sure to be something that the government can utilise to their advantage, though they will have to capture young Charlie and keep her powers at bay. While Andy and Charlie remain on the run, the little girl wants nothing than to be ‘normal’ and keep those powers hidden away. However, the need to explore how her fiery abilities could benefit America seems too strong and Charlie is eventually taken captive by The Shop. As Andy tries to use his own telekinesis to communicate with his daughter, there is a definite intensity to how Charlie will handle herself around her captors. One little girl could be the start to a new and chilling weapons program, if all goes well. But how to keep a little girl’s temper from getting the better of her, while also tapping into the depth of her powers? King takes readers on quite the ride in this one, sure to pique the interest of those who want some old school writing. Recommended to those who love a good King horror piece, as well as the reader who seeks a tingling thriller sure not to fizzle out.

I never tire of looking into the older Stephen King novels to see what I missed growing up. While some of his newer stuff is great, I miss those massive tomes that were so popular and led the genre for a long while. King does really well with this piece, upping the ante in the creepy factor without the need for excessive gore. Young Charlie McGee has powers and can use them to create havoc, which she does, but there is a desire to dampen them, not use them in some maniacal manner. She wants to be a little girl she is and forget that which makes her so vert different. King’s creation of a plot that has Charlie and Andy constantly on the run allows for some third party interactions, some of which reveals what Charlie can do, while others are based on the odd idea that a man and his daughter are constantly running from something. Hints at kidnapping come up, which makes for some interesting sub-plots throughout the piece. Charlie and Andy may be joint protagonists, but King offers enough backstory on the Lot 6 program and those tasked with finding the McGees that a number of characters receive great development throughout this piece. The story is somewhat meandering, but always in a way that King has perfected, with nuances and tangents to keep things interesting. Those not familiar with older King writing may want to begin here, as the gore and gratuitous bloodshed is minimal and the mental experiments are more the central focus. Not as intense as some of the King pieces I have read, but I still enjoyed it enough and can check this one off, waiting to see if the movie lives up to expectations. Yes, I know movies and books are always moody cousins, but that’s for another review.

Kudos, Mr. King, for another winner on your ‘old school’ novels list. I will have to find some more to pique my interest soon, though I do quite enjoy the newer stuff as well.

Love/hate the review? An ever-growing collection of others appears at:
http://pecheyponderings.wordpress.com/

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/...
Profile Image for Carol.
1,370 reviews2,136 followers
July 4, 2018
Pushes and shoves can be a dangerous thing....as can Fear, Pain and Fire!

FIRESTARTER had me at the get-go with a super-intense, spring-into-action run as 34 year old Andy McGee and daughter Charlie, 7 flee for their lives with no money and only the clothes on their back.

The story alternates between Andy's college days bringing to light how the need for an extra $200 bucks brought him to present day terror in search for a way out....a way to survive....a way to keep his daughter safe.

There is no scary or gory KING here, but there are monsters....monsters of the humanoid type who have evil intentions and mask their motives with 'for the good of the many'.

So.......don't go into Room 70, stay away from mad Doctors, be wary of crazy Indians....and DO NOT trust The Shop!

Another Stephen King winner for me!

(As is the norm, KING added to my shelf here with a horror short I can't wait to read entitled "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby, mentions POE'S William Wilson again, makes reference to his son Joe Hill's "In the Tall Grass" a few times, and The Shop from "The Stand" plays a prevalent part here.)

Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,757 reviews755 followers
December 8, 2021
While Firestarter doesn’t quite crack my top King books, it’s still a damn fine story. I don’t think it’s amongst King’s very best though, it’s missing that extra spark (pun very intended) to really make it close to my heart like so many of his other stories. While I do find the idea of pyrokinesis and telekinesis fascinating and it is no doubt a big part of what makes this book so good, that’s not what makes this book great to me. For me, what really makes this story special is the beautiful relationship between Charlie and her father. There’s just so much love and trust there, it’s incredibly touching and what makes me love this book. It’s still not quite enough to make it a full five star read but it is pretty damn close! I think what’s lacking for me is that while I do love Charlie and her fathers bond, I didn’t feel like I got to know them individually. They’re so intertwined that I didn’t get to know them enough apart to fall for them as individuals and I needed that to fully fall in love with this book. I wanted that individual bond with them because on the whole the story is a lot of sitting and separation and waiting for the action. Getting to know them as Andy and Charlie and not only AndyAndCharlie would have taken it from great to spectacular for me. I am a very character driven reader though so it might just be me and I rambled on about it for ages for it to fall on dead ears. Either way, it remains an excellent story that I do highly recommend and look forward to revisiting in years to come.
Profile Image for myo ✧༺ ༘♡ ༻∞.
742 reviews6,483 followers
May 12, 2022
FUCK THE GOVERNMENT!

i loved this one, it was so fun and so sad and because i read the institute first they were really similar to each other. stephen king is really good at writing kids in his stories, like really good. i actually think i prefer him writing children. i cant wait to watch the original and the remake.
Profile Image for Martín Gallo.
42 reviews10 followers
November 8, 2021
Que puedo decir, realmente ésta obra del maestro de terror Stephen king es una joya, he leído algunas opiniones de lectores que han catalogado el tomo como uno de los peores, que ha sido aburrido e incluso bastante tedioso.
Para ser honesto al inicio de la lectura si resulta aburrida y algo monótona, ya que es muy repetitiva y no acontecia nada extraordinario, hay bastantes cabos sueltos en los personajes, así como interrogantes de cómo fué que llegaron, cómo había obtenido su "habilidad" la protagonista y que había sucedido con su madre. Hubo varios momentos de suspenso e intriga, pero sin lugar a dudas la mejor parte es el desenlace, no imaginé que iba a concluir de esa manera. Fué una gran sorpresa y me encantó cómo cambió el panorama en un santiamén, también me gustó la fortaleza con la que Charly enfrentó los problemas y cómo salió adelante, me pareció muy emotivo el final. Es un excelente título muy recomendado.

What can I say, really this work of the horror master Stephen King is a gem, I have read some opinions of readers who have cataloged the volume as one of the worst, which has been boring and even quite tedious.
To be honest at the beginning of the reading if it turns out to be boring and somewhat monotonous, since it is very repetitive and nothing extraordinary happened, there are quite a few loose ends in the characters, as well as questions about how they arrived, how they had obtained their "ability" the protagonist and what had happened to her mother. There were several moments of suspense and intrigue, but without a doubt the best part is the ending, I did not imagine that it would end that way. It was a great surprise and I loved how the panorama changed in a jiffy, I also liked the strength with which Charly faced the problems and how he got ahead, I found the end very emotional. It is an excellent title highly recommended.
Profile Image for Rodrigo.
1,053 reviews407 followers
June 20, 2021
Me ha gustado, si bien ha habido momentos que me parecía que la historia avanzaba muy poco (creo que le sobran páginas), en lineas generales me ha gustado. nota: 3.5/5
Profile Image for Jamie Stewart.
Author 10 books158 followers
November 29, 2021
Well, that blew my mind!

Firestarter is a novel about father and daughter Andy and Charlie McKee who are on the run from a government agency known as The Shop. Why? Because Andy has the psychic power of suggestion, what he calls the push, and Charlie is a firestarter. Except Charlie’s powers far surpass her fathers in there capability. Andy’s power comes with restraints in that it only works for so long before inflicting brain damage on himself whereas Charlie’s is limitless and has no negative effect on her. The origins of their abilities are all tied to a secret experiment that The Shop carried out on college students while posing as a trial for a LSD-like medication. The drug called Lot Six altered Andy’s DNA and also the DNA of another college student, Vicky, who he would later marry and who would die at the hands of The Shop as they attempted to kidnap their daughter Charlie.

This is my second time round reading this story and other than the moments where Charlie unleashes her power I remember very little about it. Now, I will remember so much more. The character Andy McKee works like a more frayed version of Johnny Smith from The Dead Zone. Both possess psychic abilities, both are teachers and both are fundamentally good people. In a scene where Charlie is briefly kidnapped by The Shop Andy chooses to use his ability to disable the two kidnappers rather than kill them out right. It’s a scene that showcases one of the many themes running through this story. Both Andy and Charlie are good people, Andy uses his ability to help people and Charlie refuses to use hers for fear of hurting anyone, but they are pursued by a ruthless government agency that has no feelings about murdering them, after experimenting on them that is. As the story progresses the reader sees both these characters come to the end of their tethers and unleash their powers on The Shop out of the simple desire to survive.

We met Andy and Charlie at such a place, at their wits end, and we get flash backs through Andy to how he and Charlie’s mother, Vicky, met. Though, Firestarter is not a romantic book, the small portion of romance between these characters is well written and highlights King’s gift for telling such stories. However, these sections are seen mostly through the eyes of Andy and as said previously he feels like a stand in for Johnny Smith. The best part of this story is when Charlie takes centre stage in the latter portion.

Charlie is King’s most powerful good character that he has ever written. Not only is she capable of starting fires but there seems to be no limit to her ability and she also has a selection of other powers that are rarely seen in the novel. What struck me about this novel is now close it is to King’s first book Carrie, in which, the central female character also a powerful psychic ability. While Carrie is a book about a young woman unleashing her power upon those that have forever tormented her only to die at the hands of the person that’s supposed to have her corner, her mother. Firestarter explores the question what if such a person existed and what threat could she pose to the rest of humanity. There’s even sections of this that has Charlie’s father considering that Charlie will have to spend her days isolated away for peoples safety. The answer to this question is never given, which makes it an even more compelling read.

I’ve read the review that Grady Hendrix gave this novel in his Great Stephen King Re-Read, in which, he links Charlie’s power to her becoming a woman and the power that holds over the male world. It’s an interesting theory and one I agree with when you considered that this novel is almost entirely populated by male characters that all want Charlie to behave a certain way or want something from her. Her father only wants her to use her gifts as a last resort. The Shop and all its male scientists want her to use it for them. The most interesting of these is John Rainbird, a scarred assassin employed by The Shop, whose obsessed with death and wants to end Charlie’s life with the hope that in watching life leave her eyes he will gain some sense to the world around him. In terms of King bad guys he’s interesting but not top tier. The rest of the villains are interesting in how incompetent they seem, which makes me believe this book would make a great film right now with the current American and British governments being run by idiots.

Charlie however is top tier, in terms of King’s good guys, it’s just a shame that we spend so little with her. I have a suspicion that this is perhaps down to King’s own self-belief in himself to write an entire novel from the perspective of a eight-year old girl. But I have no evidence to support this. Anyway, Firestarter is an excellent read and a good starting point for none King fans. It showcases his flair for character, it has some fantastic action scenes and it is brilliantly written. The only down side is it leaves you wanting to read more more books with young female protagonist by King.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Sadie Hartmann.
Author 24 books4,110 followers
February 15, 2019
Part of February's #reviewking19 project where I revisit my Goodreads reviews of King books I've read.
Firestarter. This one flies under the radar when it comes to Stephen King standouts. The popular kids: IT, Salem's Lot, The Shining, Misery steal a lot of the limelight.
But it's King's lesser known titles that truly standout as favorites for me.
I read this book in high school and I'm particularly fond of it.
Honestly, this has more of a Science Fiction/Thriller vibe to me, rather than "horror" but that doesn't mean there aren't some horrifying scenes in this story.
The best thing about this book is the way it maintains tension and suspense all the way through.
I never wanted to put it down and I would hedge a bet that I finished this novel faster than the previous King books I had read. I'd love to give this one a re-read and see if it's just as compelling for me today as it was back then.
King develops characters better than anyone else. ANYONE ELSE. I remember Charlie and her father so clearly--and the relationship they had was easy to get sucked into and invested.
As the two of them run from THE SHOP (one of my favorite antagonists/ in the SK multiverse) you can't help but feel like you're right alongside them.
I had to look up Charlie's father's name and I wasn't surprised to learn that it's "Andy" which is also my 13 year old son's name. There are two Andy's in King's fictional stories that I have loved. Andy McGee in this story and Andy Dufresne from RITA HAYWORTH AND THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION.
I'm almost 100% it was King that subconsciously influenced me to volunteer the name Andy for our third child.
Anyhoodles,
The Shop and John Rainbird are the stuff of nightmares. Did you remember that Rainbird's face was like scarred or mutilated or something??
I do. I pictured him looking like the dude in Indiana Jones when the ark of the covenant melts his face off.
I never did watch the Drew Barrymore movie. Did you? I heard it was trash. I'd love to see a remake but not a stupid one--like a serious one because I think if handled properly, this story could really shine as a series. Season 1 could be before Charlie is born and her parents are a part of that government testing that produces their supernatural powers and then going into the death of her mother after she's born and all that. Wouldn't that be great??
This is one of King's most tightly written, character driven stories. I docked it a star just because it lacked teeth. I don't have any particularly noteworthy scenes to discuss except maybe the Farmhouse.
Profile Image for Fabian {Councillor}.
231 reviews476 followers
May 27, 2019
Buddy Read with Anne

Have you ever thought about how it would be like to possess superpowers like being able to set things on fire with the simple power of your thoughts? Surely you have, even if pyrokinesis might not precisely be what people imagine when thinking about superpowers. Just think about it for a moment: You could wander through the streets and destroy entire cities; you could burn the people who want something bad to happen to you; you have all the power necessary to climb to the very top of the world. Some people might long to have such a power, but surely most people would not want such a dangerous ability to get into the hands of anyone. And now imagine this ability being in the hands of an eight-year-old girl, a girl who cannot control her powers and who is able to leave destruction behind wherever she goes, who is able to set a man’s hair on fire by simply concentrating a little bit. A horrifying idea, isn’t it?

Stephen King took this idea as a premise to his novel Firestarter, a novel which has never been as famous as The Shining, IT or The Stand, but can still be considered to be fairly respected within the horror genre. According to most people, he succeeded in creating a well-developed, interesting story keeping its readers on the edge of their seats and making them turn the pages. He didn’t for Anne and me, though, and this can be accounted for by various reasons.

First off, the basic concept of the story is intriguing, but the execution merely consists of a) running because the bad guys want to use this ability for their intentions or b) rambling about how to finally stop running from the bad guys. Option c) would spoil the course of the book for those who are yet to read this, but I can promise you that it is not very different from those two aspects. Stephen King is known as one of the best storytellers out there, and I can certainly agree with this, being a fan of his works as well. I personally consider his books Different Seasons, IT, Dead Zone and Under the Dome to belong to the best books I have read so far. But in the end, Stephen King either convinces me or he doesn’t, and Firestarter was one of the most boring, long-stretched, boring, uninspiring, badly-written and - did I mention this already? - boring novels I have read for a long time. Whenever something interesting actually happened, the dreadful writing immediately managed to make it uninteresting again. After finally finishing Firestarter and being relieved and happy about now being able to turn towards other books, Anne and I compared the writing in Firestarter with a passage in IT, and it felt like reading something from entirely different authors – although the books were actually published only six years apart from each other.

King can certainly tell a story, and he can certainly write as he proved already quite a few times. He’s not the best writer, though, a deficit he is usually able to encounter with his intriguing characterizations and his well-crafted plots which never advance by contradicting the character motivations. However, in this novel, King was unable to make me care about any of the protagonists, and the only two characters who even had the potential to be interesting were John Rainbird, the main antagonist, and Irv Manders, a minor character.

In the end, the conclusion to the story was rather satisfying, though not quite making up for the pure boredom the first 350 pages could be called, and after turning to the last page, only two thoughts crossed my mind: Relief about having finished this, and the almost certain knowledge that even if King had released a sequel to this book (for which the potential is clearly visible), I would never even touch it. Luckily enough, I did not fall out of love with King, but for people who have never read anything by him, I would recommend choosing another book instead. However, most people seem to have enjoyed this book way more than I did, so maybe Anne and I both simply read this wrong and you, dear reader, would miss an awesome book if you trust our negative reviews.

If you have some more minutes left, I urge you to read Anne's review here.

Edit: My hatred towards this book has definitely soothed during the last three years since I read this book. I should probably reread it one day, but for now, I'll at least raise my rating for this to two stars.
Profile Image for Ron.
387 reviews89 followers
April 2, 2016
What I liked most about Firestarter was the bond between a father and his daughter. The character development is solid in this Stephen King story, especially considering the relationship of Charlie and Andy McGee. Maybe I liked this element of the book because they are the victims, and I always root for the underdog. Also, because it’s clear how much Andy loves his daughter. He would give his life for her. A short afterward follows the end of the book. In it, King thanks his own daughter, who must have been about 10 at the time, for inspiration into the character of Charlie. That’s when I understood why the relationship in the book seemed so real to me.

It’s a government agency that plays the bad guy, or a hidden branch of the military of sorts. Those guys are always looking for the perfect weapon, aren’t they? In his younger days, Andy signs up for a study trial in college, just to make a quick 200 bucks. Two great things come out of it: meeting his future wife, followed by the birth of their daughter. The novel is told in present time, with views into the past, of a life on the run - because that’s the bad thing that came out of that “simple” college experiment. The agency wants what it produced. No matter the cost. Those pr!@&$.
Profile Image for Amber.
992 reviews
January 19, 2019
Charlie McGee and her father Andy are two people on the run from the shop a group of ruthless government mad doctors that wants to experiment on Charlie for her powerful pyrokinesis powers. Can they survive? Read on and find out for yourself.

This was a pretty good read. If you enjoy Stephen King's books, definitely check this out at your local library and wherever books are sold.
Profile Image for Jimena.
192 reviews60 followers
November 15, 2022
Stephen King, referente del horror, hace uso en este caso de una estructura narrativa dual en la que se explora, por un lado, el transcurso presente de hechos que constituyen la historia mientras se nos desvela, de forma paralela, el conocimiento de acontecimientos pasados que hacen posible la comprensión de la caza que se nos relata en primer lugar. Porque firestarter es, en cierta medida, eso: una caza.

Charlie es una nena de 7 años con un don, o una maldición, singular. Posee poderes parasicológicos entre los que destaca una inusitada habilidad para prender fuego las cosas -o a las personas-. Este extraordinariamente perverso talento es resultado de unos experimentos científicos a los que sus padres se sometieron muchos años atrás, unas inyecciones misteriosas de un componente denominado como “lote seis” que genera modificaciones a la glándula pituitaria y cuyos efectos son desconocidos hasta para los científicos a cargo de tan osada y macabra empresa.

Esta novela del maestro del terror, concebida durante de las épocas de la guerra fría, podría tener una inspiración real en el proyecto mk ultra, a cargo de la CIA, cuyo propósito era experimentar con sujetos para hacerlos capaces del control mental. Estas habilidades no son ajenas a los personajes que King crea en esta ocasión, siendo Andy, el padre de la niña, capaz de adulterar la voluntad y el pensamiento de otros mediante ordenes mentales aunque éstas le supongan un extremo deterioro a él mismo.

Firestarter, u ojos de fuego en español, es una historia de ciencia ficción sumamente rica en su dominio de la piroquinesis, el suspenso y la crítica a la impunidad de las fuerzas gubernamentales en la realización de actos abominables en presunta persecución del bien de la nación. Acá el gobierno, o una agencia integrante de éste, caza sin piedad a un hombre y una niña para someterlos como conejillos de indias en un laboratorio con la esperanza de poder utilizarlos posteriormente como armas. En una novela que envuelve por la inescrupulosa frialdad y ambición de sus villanos pero también por el intenso y conmovedor nexo entre un padre y una hija intentando sobrevivir.

¿Le sobran páginas? Es probable, su ritmo lento podría quizá haberse acelerado o la cantidad de párrafos destinados a la manipulación psicológica de sus personajes podría haber sido menos extensa pero no es, por ello, un libro que deje de valer la pena.
Profile Image for Adam Brigue.
Author 8 books100 followers
February 14, 2020
I loved this book, probably one of my favourite Stephen KING novels. The story evolves very gracefully while keeping you on your toes. Well done to Stephen for creating such world's and characters with supernatural powers!
December 22, 2022
One of the many books that shows why Stephen King is a bestselling writer!

This book it’s a true showcase of his work - with brilliant suspense and horror with moments to make the flesh crawl. Considering this is a fairly big book - it didn’t take long to read at all. Hard to put down! I would definitely recommend this one.

Charlie is such a brilliant character every second she is in this book I just couldn't put it down. This isn't just a book about an extraordinary girl with life-threatening powers. It's also about growing up, innocence and coping with death. This book is heartbreaking, powerful and without fault.

‘A kid of your age—any kid—could get hold of matches if she wanted to, burn up the house or whatever. But not many do. Why would they want to?’

The only reason I aren't giving this the full 5 stars is because of how it slows in the middle of the book, I felt like the middle section of the book was a little disjointed from the beginning and the ending of this story.
There is nothing like a fathers love and I love the dynamic Charlie and her father have, I have read so many books with a mother daughter relationship but a father daughter relationship just hits differently sometimes.

There are a lot of fast-paced suspense filled moments throughout this book this is a cat and mouse book, with multiple chases and capture sections which I love. Kings attention to detail in this book is really impressive.
Profile Image for Anne .
183 reviews261 followers
May 6, 2016
Firestarter was my second book by Stephen King. Somehow it managed to be a lot worse than Carrie, which was my first. I'll be bluntly honest with you, reading this almost felt like flipping through 520 pages of nothing. I guess it's easy to forgive this disappointment because this book is early King, and regardless of the fact that I'm not an expert in the King field, it seems that this lacked a certain va-va-voom factor which his books are known for. And besides, Fabian is a King expert and he agrees with me - I have back up people, stay back. I honestly don't have much to say about this book, for lack of inspiration, and like I said before, I would've dumped this before I even got to the next running scene if not for Fabian who wouldn't let us quit. To read his review, please click here ⏩ you'll pay for this. And here goes.

THE STORY LINE
Vicky Tomlinson and Andy Mcgee were once participants in a medical experiment in college which left them permanently changed and with special abilities that you and I will never be capable of having(don't you just love Stephen King's rascal mind?). Years later, the experiment over, we find out that Vicky and Andy married and had a daughter named Charlie, and The Shop, the secret governmental organization which carried out the experiment which caused their "abilities" is still after them.

PROOF OF FACT: RUNNING WILL NEVER BE THE ANSWER TO YOUR PROBLEMS
All Charlie and Andy do is run. Run father run. Run daughter run. For like two-thirds of the book that is all they do. They run, they get cornered, they escape, and they run. That's it. This was too thin a narrative line to stretch over a long book, a book of 520 pages. Bless our souls. I don't even know how Fabian and I got through this. Now there are two types of running. Adventurous running, which manages to keep you on your toes and galloping through book pages towards the end, and exasperating running - which is simply enervative and very vexatious. By now you'd have guessed that Andy and Charlie adopted the latter. Not even the writing in this book could save it for me because even that I found lacking. It was too simple and boring, almost offensively plain. The only parts I could forgive were those that gave audience to Charlie's voice. Charlie is a 7 year old girl, and as such, should sound like one - I'll concede to that. But what about the rest of the narration? I just found the writing to be too poor, but of course that's my subjective opinion.

The conclusive truth is even if we were the world's most patient readers, you can only wait so long for something to happen. And when your tolerance is wearing thin and your hope is dwindling, you stop caring - if you even cared at all in the first place, which I'm not sure I did. It was just too late at that point for any kind of turn around.

One good point: Charlie and Andy were very likeable characters. Even though I didn't like them, couldn't relate to them, couldn't care enough about them. But the point... Is they were.

CHARLIE AND ANDY'S RELATIONSHIP
The father is the authority figure. He holds the psychic reins of every fixation in the female child. Oral, anal, genital; behind each, like a shadowy figure standing behind a curtain, is the father authority figure. To the girl child he is Moses; the laws are his laws, handed down she knows not how, but his to enforce. He is perhaps the only person on earth who can remove this block.

It was revealed in the earliest pages of the book that Vicky died. What we were left with were Andy and Charlie trying to evade The Shop, on the run with hardly any monetary support and only their abilities to survive. I imagine that they were drawn close by her absence, and you can imagine the strength of the buddy system formed in such a precarious situation. Charlie and Andy adored each other, worried about each other and helped each other all the way. The buddy system heightened the special father-daughter bond they originally shared. Their love was marked by a state of awareness, a knowledge that this could be the end of the road, and they could be caught at anytime. Separated, hurt, or killed. And they acted based on this knowledge. It was one of the good parts of this book: The way it portrayed such lovely kinship.

POINT TO NOTE: IT SEEMS KING HAS A SOFT SPOT FOR GIFTED KIDS
And Here I make reference to Carrie.


Just sprinkle some ketchup on Charlie and we might as well be talking about Carrie. The Shop is just an organization of bullies after all. I honestly love how King delves into the paranormal. But of course, the two stories differ greatly.

PYROKINESIS
There's a saying that Fire is a good slave and a bad master. Please don't try experimenting with this theory. It all comes back to King's affinity for the paranormal. Scientific explanations were proffered for this phenomenon here, but pyrokinesis is ostensibly a mind affair. Since I'm weirdly attracted to anything that relates to the psyche and mind, this plotline intrigued me a little bit. In the end, it failed to excite me as much as it should have because I wasn't fully convinced by the displays Charlie made. Or maybe the phenomenon wasn't really explored properly. I don't know, but something was simply amiss. Little Charlie had to struggle with the concept of good and bad and right and wrong using her ability, pyrokinesis, as a compass for gauging. It was disheartening at times, and at other times it was impressive to read about how mature and brave she was. A girl of 7 shouldn't have had to deal with issues which Charlie dealt with. A girl of 7 shouldn't struggle and contemplate so critically about such concepts or be so horribly afraid of the gravity and consequences of powers(Aside from pyrokinesis, she also had some psychic powers) she never asked for. This brings me back to Charlie's likeability and how endearing she was as a character.

Other characters that interested me were Irv manders(who Fabian said he would love to encounter as a major character in another King book, and I couldn't agree more) and John Rainbird - this guy scared me. There was a pattern to his madness, but I can't be too sure about what it was yet.

And my final disappointment. I was so dissatisfied with the ending. It felt unfinished, like something suspended and left in the limbo. But no, it wasn't an open ending. I would say the ending was resolved, but it felt like Charlie's story wasn't truly finished. Ordinarily the feeling of continuity of a story even after the story has ended should be a good thing. Here it felt...not wrong, but just not right.

I always say reading a book is akin to going on a journey. This book was like going carpooling. I don't remember much of the things we saw(I'm not sure Fabian does too), and I was mostly bored watching the sights fly by, but we made it. The book was a fail, but our buddy read - always a success. If you're a king fan, definitely read this. I dare say your experience might be different. If you're a newbie like me, I would say try something else by King. Someone told me King has written about 60 books, it's a whole sea of books. Go fishing.

PRE-REVIEW
To say that Firestarter is underwhelming would be a grave understatement. The writing is poor and the story lacks allure. I would probably have dumped this book and bleached it from my memory 60 pages ago but thank the book gods for a buddy reading partner like Fabian The only thing this story has taught me is to never underestimate the significance of a reading buddy. Life's too short to read a book you aren't enjoying. So why, you ask, do we keep on with this? I won't lie. There's joy in complaining about a book and being frustrated together. And rejoicing in the little breakthroughs we encounter along the way.
Profile Image for Pedro Ceballos.
287 reviews25 followers
May 26, 2021
Esta fue una de las primeras novelas que leí de Stephen King, es una magnífica obra, la disfrute al máximo, unos personajes bien estructurados y con los cuales se puede hacer empatía fácilmente. Se podría decir que parte de una idea simple y clásica de los 80 (conspiración gubernamental para hacer experimentos en humanos para luego usarlos como armas militares) para generar una excelente obra de literatura.

De la novela me gustó la descripción de los lazos tan fuertes (entre el padre y la niña y también entre los padres), la descripción de como la niña perdía el control, la descripción de las muertes. La verdad es que tengo a esta novela entre mi top personal de Stephen King.

Posteriormente me vi la película y ya la he repetido 3 veces, una de las primeras apariciones de Drew Barrymore en la pantalla siendo la protagonista en este caso (y que luego aparecería en otras 2 o 3 películas de novelas escritas por Stephen King). A pesar de ser una excelente película, la novela sigue siendo todavía mucho más terrorífica y completa. Así que la barra de medición está bastante alta para la próxima adaptación que vendrá pronto.
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