Baxlala’s #CBR4 Review #30: Firestarter by Stephen King
DISCLAIMER: Hey, so don’t read this book unless you want Progidy’s Firestarter stuck in your head until you finish it. True story.
Firestarter is one of Stephen King’s first novels. I think. I didn’t look it up or anything, but I’m just assuming it was based on the fact that a very young Drew Barrymore played the main character in the movie adaptation. So, you know, draw your own conclusions. Hopefully they match the ones I drew…mine looked like this:
Firestarter is the
sweet coming of age tale the almost completely tragic tale of Charlie McGee and her father Andy, both on the run from a super scary government agency called The Shop. We soon find out the reason they’re on the run (and I don’t think I’m spoiling anything by telling you this, since it’s on the book jacket): Andy has telepathic powers and can “push” people into doing his bidding (AWESOME) and Charlie can start giant, uncontrollable fires, which seems like a really safe thing for a kid to be able to do. Andy and his wife (who also had powers) got their abilities when they participated in an experiment called “Lot 6” in college. They did it to make some extra cash and got psychic powers in the process, which is pretty great, except for whole “the government wants to kill me and steal my daughter,” thing.
The Shop, obviously, wants to kidnap Charlie so they can do creepy experiments on her and, for whatever reason, her dad is like, “um, yeah, no thanks.” But The Shop doesn’t care. The Shop does what it wants! But their guns are no match for THE FIRESTARTER! She can start FIRES! Whenever she wants. Or, accidentally, whenever she’s too upset. And, you know, kids never get upset about stupid things so I’m sure all of her fires are totally intentional. Right. Sure.
Here’s the thing about Firestarter: for a Stephen King book, it’s remarkably tame. I mean, sure, there’s all this violence against a child, as well as murder and mayhem perpetrated BY the child, but in the grand scheme of King’s universe? It’s nothing. There is an icky bit about a grown man being sort of in love with Charlie, but even that isn’t as gross as I’d expect it to be. This is no IT, you guys. I probably should have been more disturbed by it, because Charlie is adorable and sweet and all these terrible things happen to her, but I think years of reading Stephen King and watching hours of Dexter and zombie movies have ruined me.
There are also fewer supernatural elements to Firestarter than most other Stephen King novels, but I think that’s because the powers Charlie and her father have are supposed to be based in SCIENCE and you know how SCIENCE feels about the supernatural. If you don’t, just ask Scully: