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Fire-Starter by Stephen King
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Fire-Starter (original 1980; edition 1981)

by Stephen King

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5,488None789 (3.61)83
Member:wildbill
Title:Fire-Starter
Authors:Stephen King
Info:Signet (1981), Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Your library, read
Rating:***1/2
Tags:fiction

Work details

Firestarter by Stephen King (1980)

20th century (18) American (15) American literature (12) children (14) ebook (20) fantasy (39) fiction (530) fire (22) hardcover (16) horror (773) horror fiction (20) King (53) made into movie (19) movie (15) novel (66) own (18) owned (15) paperback (27) paranormal (34) psychic (13) pyrokinesis (72) read (98) science fiction (65) Stephen King (131) supernatural (54) suspense (29) telekinesis (20) thriller (110) to-read (38) unread (25)

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English (47)  French (2)  Dutch (1)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (52)
Showing 1-5 of 47 (next | show all)
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 |
This book was a page turner. A good read, because of the subject (little girl with extraordinary gift is chased by governement officials) and because of the feelings it arose in me.
Sympathy for the girl and her father that have ended up in a situation they didn't ask for and anger and / or contempt for the governement officials (Rainbird in particular!) that do the hunting, hurting, manipulating.

The end however I did not like. It was way to abrupt for me. Still reading , thinking about Charlie's next move, the book came suddenly to a stop.
In some cases, open endings are not so bad, neither are non-happy endings. But, in this case, especially because I felt so much for Charlie, I would have liked to have more information on how things would continue.
In my very humble opinion a missed opportunity. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Sep 28, 2013 |
I'm reread this one because I perused it when I was 18 & didn't like it, but didn't know shit back then. Now I love it. ( )
  ARBraun7 | Jul 20, 2013 |
This is one book by Stephen king, I've only read once. Don't think I have a copy. Dutch or English. Must check.
I do want to re-resd it but i am sure I can find it for the Kindle
  Marlene-NL | Apr 12, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 47 (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.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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 10 descriptions

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