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Firestarter by Stephen King
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Firestarter (original 1980; edition 1981)

by Stephen King

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5,59356771 (3.61)85
Member:wtoomey
Title:Firestarter
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1981), Mass Market Paperback, 416 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:own, ebook, horror, Pyrokinesis, supernatural

Work details

Firestarter by Stephen King (1980)

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» See also 85 mentions

English (50)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  Spanish (1)  Catalan (1)  German (1)  All languages (56)
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
The best thing, perhaps, about this book is that it starts with a family who the CIA tested on in the 70s by giving them LSD and other drugs. It gave the parents limited powers, but more importantly, the children of those who had been experimented on, supernatural powers. What I love about that is that the CIA really did run tests on people. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
The best thing, perhaps, about this book is that it starts with a family who the CIA tested on in the 70s by giving them LSD and other drugs. It gave the parents limited powers, but more importantly, the children of those who had been experimented on, supernatural powers. What I love about that is that the CIA really did run tests on people. ( )
  csweder | Jul 8, 2014 |
4.25 stars

7-year old Charlie and her dad, Andy, are on the run. In 1969, as college students, Andy and Charlie's mom met while volunteering in a psychology study, where they were pumped full of unknown drugs. As a result, Andy became able to "push" people's minds to do what he suggests to them. As a baby, Andy and Vicky learn that Charlie can start fires with her mind when she's upset. Now, Charlie and Andy are running from the people who originally started all this in motion with the drug tests done on the unsuspecting students in '69.

This was really good. It pulled me right in at the start and was suspenseful throughout. There was some going back in time to get the background story (some of which I've described here, but that's only the basics), and thinking back while I was reading, I did get a little confused on the exact timeline/order of events, but the exact timeline didn't really matter for the overall story, so it really wasn't a big deal. Firestarter is right up there with some of King's best, I think. ( )
1 vote LibraryCin | May 5, 2014 |
This is classic early King storytelling, although I wouldn't rank it among his top works. I actually tried reading this one a long time ago, but I put it down 20 pages in because I couldn't get behind the story.

This one starts in medias res, with Andy and his seven-year-old daughter Charlie on the run from The Shop, a secret government agency who has a vested interest in Andy's & Charlie's psychic abilities. Much of the first half of the book is devoted to following Andy & Charlie as they try to elude the Shop agents. Andy's mental abilities allow him to influence other people's actions (what he calls "pushing") but using his ability too much takes a tremendous toll on his health. Charlie can set raging fires with little effort, but she also doesn't know yet how to control them.

Now that I'm slowly but surely reading King's novels in order, I realized that he's written a lot of books featuring psychically gifted (or cursed) protagonists - Carrie, The Dead Zone, and Firestarter come to mind immediately, not to mention Danny Torrance from The Shining. Something that I've never picked up on before.

As I mentioned before, this story starts right in the middle of an ongoing pursuit, which I think is why it was hard for me to get into the story the first time. I like my books to have a more gradual buildup in terms of increasing action, and this story (or at least the first half) felt more like separate events strung together and less like a cohesive plot. I attribute this mostly to the fact that this was still one of King's earlier novels.

But the last half of the book was pretty cool. It's hard to find one character to label as the main villain, but John Rainbird, the deceptive and slightly insane hitman hired by The Shop, comes pretty close and he's one heck of an intriguing & manipulative bad guy.

Plus, King also promises in the last half that there will be a final, catastrophic showdown, so everything that happens from that point on lays the groundwork for this grand finale. Thankfully, he delivers on his promise.

This book is about what I've come to expect from Stephen King's "average" novels, although I hate using that word since his "average" writing is usually much better than other authors at their best. It's a solid, enjoyable story that kept me turning the pages. It didn't scare the pants off of me, but it didn't bore me. A book I would probably suggest to someone who had already read most of his better novels and were looking for some of his lesser-known backlist titles.

Readalikes:

The Dead Zone - Stephen King. This is probably the closest readalike to Firestarter out of King's earlier novels. An unwilling protagonist is gifted/cursed with a psychic ability beyond his power or full understanding, and the plot does not conform to a traditional story arc. But if you want a scarier psychic read, you can also try Carrie.

Other horror novels by top-name authors featuring characters with psychic abilities include Avenging Fury (John Farris), Dragon Tears (Dean Koontz), or Demon's Door (Graham Masterton). ( )
  coloradogirl14 | Mar 4, 2014 |
A little girl develops pyrokinetic powers as a result of clandestine drug testing on her parents and is chased around by the government.

Read it last quite a while ago. I remember it as a tense, suspenseful book--kind of like those bad dreams where something is always chasing you and you can never stop to rest. I'm probably not remembering it at all well, although those flashback scenes to the drug tests--quite horrific imagery--stick with me. I probably couldn't reread it now, recalling what happens to poor mum. Not one of King's greatest works, certainly, but an entertaining read. I have quite a nice collector's edition that sits on my shelf looking pretty.

Read many moons ago because Stephen King is my favorite author. Reviewed based on memory. ( )
  sturlington | Nov 27, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 50 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
King, Stephenprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boutsikaris, DennisReadersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lahtinen, Aarne T. K.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
"It was a pleasure to burn." -- Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451
Dedication
In memory of Shirley Jackson, who never needed to raise her voice.
First words
"Daddy, I'm tired," the little girl in the red pants and the green blouse said fretfully.
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
You are about to meet the sweetest, most irresistible little girl you've ever known - 8-year-old Charlie McGee.
She's everything that a proud father like Andy McGee could want - and all that he can fear. For Charlie was born with the most destructive power a human being has ever commanded - and somehow she must be saved from both herself and from those in high places who want to use her as their weapon.

Meet Charlie - and see what happens when innocence and beauty unite with evil and terro.
----------------------------------------------------
FIRESTARTER is the mesmerising and menacing story of a sinister government agency, a fateful drug experiment, and a pigtailed girl named Charlie, who has an unimaginably terrifying gift: the power of pyrokinesis.
Haiku summary
Her power's constrained!
No, just seems that way because
thermometers melt.

(Carnophile)

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0451167805, Mass Market Paperback)

Innocence and beauty ignite with evil and terror as a young girl exhibits signs of a wild and horrifying force.



(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:56:03 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Young Charlie McGee is a very special girl. The result of scientific experimentation on her parents, she has the ability to create fires wherever and whenever she chooses, by force of will alone. On the run from sinister government agents with her telekenetic father, she only wants to forget her monstrous abilities, and live a normal life. When the pair are captured, Charlie must decide between saving her father and using her fiery powers at the whim of a government only interested in using her ... as a weapon!… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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