Firestarter

FirestarterStephen King is a hit or miss author for me. It seems that I either love his novels or am so bored by them that I bail. I’m late to the party for Firestarter. I remember seeing the movie at an inappropriately young age, but I never picked up the book. Instead, my first foray into the King canon as a teenager consisted of It (bailed), “The Body” (enjoyed – but it was the only one of the short stories in Different Seasons that I read), Pet Sematary (bailed), and The Eyes of the Dragon (LOVED!!). In my early 20s, I read The Gunslinger and The Drawing of the Three, but didn’t make it through The Wastelands. I own two complete sets of the The Dark Tower series. Maybe someday I’ll try again to read them.

I took a break from King’s work for decades and once again, thanks to Litsy, have started dipping my toe back in the water. I read Duma Key earlier this year, and loved it. I bailed on The Stand (do you see the pattern here?). Then, October arrived. The Litsy buddy read that I co-host, which is attempting to read all of Stephen King’s works in publication order, finally came to Firestarter. Because I have a vague recollection of the film and I adore Drew Barrymore, I decided I would not “ghost host” this month. Instead of  just posting the discussion thread for the book, I would actually read along with my fellow book lovers.

I cannot fully express how glad I am that bought a copy of this book and cracked it open. Despite severe migraines Friday and Saturday, I had trouble putting Firestarter down. The prose is brilliant. King sucks you into the story from the very beginning and never lets go. The story opens with two college students who sign up to be part of a one-day experiment to earn some extra cash. If this book doesn’t serve as a warning on the dangers of signing up to be a guinea pig for medical trials, I don’t know what will! The two students end up getting married and have a child, a daughter, who is born with special “gifts” thanks to the effects of the drug her parents both received as part of the experiment. The most obvious and terrifying of her gifts is pyrokinesis – the ability to start fires with her mind.

The scariest part of this novel to me isn’t Charlie’s ability to start fires. By far, the most terrifying aspect is the government hunt for her family, the lengths the Shop goes to in order to capture her and study her. Even before that, just the fact that the government is engaged in the initial drug study, testing hallucinogens, trying to build super soldiers, is so believable and frightening.

I don’t want to say anything more about the plot, as I really think you should read the book for yourself. My mass market paperback copy is 564 pages, but believe me, they fly by and the book is over before you know it. Often, I feel like King needs a stronger editor to cull his books down (I’m looking at you, The Stand), but Firestarter is a taut thriller that I sped through. I’m not sure if it’s enough to knock The Eyes of the Dragon off the all-time favorite Stephen King novel pedestal, but it’s definitely top three. 4.5 stars.

~ by Rachel on October 29, 2018.

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