Sunday, 21 October 2018

Book Review: Firestarter by Stephen King

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.

"You're a firestarter, honey... just one big Zippo lighter."

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.


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