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Firestarter - Stephen King

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Author: Stephen King / Genre: Horror

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    12 Reviews
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      21.10.2008 10:50
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      A wonderful book and a story that will make you think

      This is a great story that explores that special daddy-daughter bond.

      In university, a mistake was made. Two students participated in a test, not knowing they were being lied to. The test changed them forever - giving them essentially supernatural powers. Now, the real problem comes when they have a child - a child with much stronger powers that they have - a child who can start fires.

      The book also gives us a frightening view on secret societies. The father and girl are pursued across most of America - chased by the Shop - a CIA outfit. It will make you think about how the CIA and FBI operates in real life.

      This is a great book. You can't help relating to the characters - even some of the 'evil' ones. Although not scary like some of his other works, it most definitely is disturbing.

      A must for any King fan, and if you have never enjoyed any of his books before, this is a good place to start.

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      12.09.2008 20:31
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      A excellent book, definately worth reading.

      Stephen King is arguably one of the best writers alive today, if not of all time. He made himself famous with books such as Carrie and The Shining, and more recent books such as Cell. He specialises in Horror books, although he has also branched of into fantasy books on several occasions. In my opinion this book is somewhere in between horror and science fiction.

      The story follows the struggles of single father Andy McGee and his adorable daughter Charlie, who because of a government experiment in Andy's youth have given both of the psionic abilities.

      Charlie has the ability to start fires using her mind, a talent known as pyrokinesis. She is the story's main character, and the government assosiation "The Shop" are constantly hunting her down in order to test and harness her seemingly boundless power. Stephen King portrays the struggles of the young girl (around the age of 7 in the novel), as she tries cope with her extraordinary power and the government attention it is giving her with great emotion. Without giving too much away the ending of the novel is such that we want to know so much more, and yet you feel truely happy for Charlie.

      Andy however has the power to use the "Push" which is talent that lets him put thoughts into people's minds. Similair to the Jedi mind trick that features in the Star Wars films. He uses this gift rarely however as he suffers headaches whenever he uses it. He has also found that using the gift can drive people insane, which is often not Andy's intention at all.

      Overall this book is great, and has a storyline full of ups and downs and unexpected turns. It is completely addictive, and whats better it lasts over 500 pages. Despite it being quite lengthy it is a very easy read for horror fans and science fiction fans alike. It is one of Stephen Kings best novels in my opinion, and I would definately advise reading the book instead of or prior to the film, which really doesn't do the book justice.

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        07.01.2005 16:32
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        Great pyschological horror

        My life is, as many these days, hectic and there are times when I just want to escape from it all. When I feel like this there is nothing better than escaping into a good book. You see, I love to read, and although I will read any book my favourites are those that feature horror or fantasy. And my favourite author is Stephen King who, in my opinion, writes the very best horrors. I read my first ever Stephen King at the age of 14, and I was hooked, this review is going to be about that book, "Firestarter".

        The Author
        ************

        Stephen King was born in Portland, Maine, America in 1947. His first sojourn into the field of writing was at the tender age of 12, when he and his brother started a local newspaper. His first published novel, however, was "Carrie", which arrived in 1974. He is a prolific writer, and has published countless novels and short stories, many of which have been adapted as movies, both as Stephen King and Richard Bachman.

        The Storyline
        *************

        When Andy and Vicky agreed to take part in a psych test, organised by a secret government agency (The Shop), involving taking a low grade hallucinogen "Lot 6", they had no idea that it would give them Pyschic powers. And, what no-one could have predicted was that they would marry and have a child, Charlie, who has somehow inherited a mix of their powers and is now pyrokinetic, that is she is a firestarter.

        Now the government are after her, and it's upto her Dad to keep her safe........

        The Characters
        ***************

        There are a vast range of characters within the book here I'll introduce just a few :

        Andy McGee :
        Andy took "Lot 6" as part of an experiment while at college. As a result he now has mild mind control powers, which he calls "The Push". However, whenever he pushes, it does some kind of damage to his brain and gives him severe headaches.

        Vicky McGee :
        Vicky also took part in "Lot 6", she has occasional telekinesis, that is she can sometimes move things using only her mind.

        Charlene McGee :
        Charlie is something completely different, she has inherited psychic powers from both her Mum and Dad. She is telekinetic, has a touch of mindreading, but most significantly, she is pyrokinetic and can light fires with the force of her mind.

        Dr Wanless :
        Dr Wanless is the scientist who conducted the original experiment. He is the epitome of a mad scientist and is now obsessed with the result, that is Charlie.

        Cap :
        Cap is the head of "The shop" a secret government agency, that seems completely above the law. A, quite sympathetic character, who is trying to clear up the mess left by his predessor.

        Rainbird :
        A truly frightening character, Rainbird is a native American, who is "The Shops" best assassin.

        There are, of course, many other characters within the story, all equally well written.

        The Stories Within The Story
        *************************

        As with all Stephen King books, there are underlying storylines, dealing with among others Charlie's relationship with her father, and her desire to live a quiet life with him. It is this depth that makes this such a good story.

        Horror or Paranoid Drama?
        ***********************

        I guess this will depend on what you as a person find frightening. I personally would put this book firmly as a horror. I remember when I first read it, being truly frightened by some of the characters. But, my best friend at the time, couldn't see anything scary as such, but we both agreed it was a great book.


        A Good Read
        ************

        Definitely ! ! !

        Firstly, I love Stephen King's style of writing, the way you are drawn into the plot and need to know what happens next. Then the story itself is so compelling, each of the characters has some trait, that makes you want to find out what happens to them. Reading the book as an adult, is a very different experience to that as a teenager, now I'm older and know a little bit more about what America was like at the time the book was written, I can understand the paranoid undertones more.

        However, this is not a book for those of the Mills & Boon disposition, there are no love stories, except that of family love, this is a gripping horror/drama from start to finish.

        Other Information
        *********************

        First Published : 1980
        Publisher : Plume/Penguin
        ISBN : 0452273307/0451167805
        No. Pages : 416
        Price : From 46p on Amazon Marketplace, or borrow it from your library for free.

        There is also a DVD available starring a very young Drew Barrymore as Charlie, which is a very good adaptation.

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          22.01.2002 19:20
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          Personally i believe that this was King's real big-break. Not one of his best but, one has to remember that this was released just after he was getting to grips with the publishing world. King gives us quite unusual circumstances in this novel, and what is most interesting about them is that his ideas seem way ahead of time in this one. A selection of students are taken in and tested with a new experimental drug...a drug with frightning effects...it alters the body's genetic structure and gives the user some sort of permanent psychic ability. In the case of two of them - Andy and Vicky - they fall in love ang get married...bad idea. The result is their child, Charlie McGee, a very innocent girl with a very dangerous ability, Pyrokenesis...she can set things on fire, anything, when she wants... This results in the government being very interested in young Charlie, and they will stop at nothing to get her...even killing. The novel begins with Charlie and her father on the run from 'The Shop'...but what happened to her mother? All is revealed, eventually... The only downfall in this book is the lack of suspense it has and the constant dancing around the action rather than King usually getting stuck straight into. The plot structure is good and the actual idea is a great original, prose is the usual coloquial King but with a bit of humour thrown in(probably compensating for the New York surroundings!). A good read but not one of the greats...early King, what can you expect?

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          08.10.2001 05:10
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          Ever wanted to burn someone up? Twist someones mind so that they do exactly what you want them to do? Well this book is for you! Andy Mcgee as a poor college student decides to take part in some tests being done by another department - for 250 dollars. The tests basically go horribly wrong, the substance being tested (lot 6)does wild and wacky things to the subjects, hallucination and worse - one guy even ripped his own eyes out, and then they let the rest go, telling them it was all in their imagination, and they can forget about the experience. McGee meets his future wife there, and gradually they fall in love, and discover the powers which they now have, Vicky to do things like closing doors - nothing too exciting - and Andy to 'push' people into doing what he wants. Unknown to then they are carefully monitored by the 'Shop', the government agency who sponsored the testing in the first place. They have a child, Charlie, who they discover has powers far greater than theirs, an ability to light fires. Without giving too much away, the story then revolves around Charlie, and her abilities - and the pursuit of her by the Shop. The continual escapes, running, and incidents make up the bulk of the book - leading toward the conclusion - which I won't reveal! The story telling is brilliant as ever with King - although I don't think I would rank this book as horror, it's just not horrific enough for that - but a very good read nontheless. The only weak point is the conclusion, I can't really say why, it just seemed to leave me wanting for something more. I would definitely recommend this book - and for a chance buy at the market with no description on the jacket I've been very pleased!

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          21.04.2001 06:32
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          Firestarter is another King classic. I think it appealed to me firstly because the whole story begins with psycholgy experiments at university and being a poor student i've taken part in quite a few so its easy to relate to. It all begins when two young students meet at some dodgy psychology experiments testing a new chemical and fall in love.... Eventually they get married and start to notice strange telekinetic abilities that they have developed and inadvertantly passed on to their child.... This child has a extra special talent of being able to start fires when she is angry.. Unknown to the family they have been stalked by the government ever they since they took part in the experiment.... The book opens with the father and his young daughter on the run from this secret government agency, who have decided they want to take the little girl into custardy 'for her own good' if you know what I mean... Firestarter is a great read, its easy to get into and the characters are very engaging. Trust me you will hate the bad guys, which is what makes Firestarter so difficult to put down. It makes you wonder if things like that could happen in the real world???

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          24.09.2000 04:18
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          Although this is an enjoyable read it follows the general trends his books always do. The story line is again slightly different from his other books - although there are a lot of similarities between this and the Shining. Both involve children who have unusual powers and have one parent who seems to do most of the parenting. And although the other characters in the stories have mishaps come their way, the two children escape unscathed. This book holds the readers interest and is compelling but a rather slow middle section leaves the reader slightly dissapointed. The book is good even if the ending is predictable. I love Stephen King books and read them all but I have to say that once you've read one you might as well have read them all.

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          20.09.2000 22:24

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          This was the second of King's books I read, the first being The Dead Zone (after that, I had to read another). Like The Dead Zone, the opener gets into the idea of the book straight away. The two characters are Andy and Charlie McGee, father and daughter. Charlie's parents were involved in a sinister drugs experiment, run by an even more sinister government agency, which in some way affected their genes, so when they had a child together it caused the child to have a kind of special power - to light fires just by will. Andy and Charlie had been on the run from this agency (called "The Shop") since they killed Charlie's mother, and the first half of the book is about their near misses, using false names, and Andy's new found power of mental domination - he can make people think what he wants them to think. The trouble is, this "push" is damaging his brain. The Shop eventually catch them (don't worry, I've not given anything away by saying that!) and hold them prisoners for tests, determined to learn these powers for world control as they see it. The eventual outcome is The Shop's headquaters becoming a blazing inferno - you feel yourself cheering Charlie on as she destroys everything she wants to. There seems to be a tail end to the story which King did not know to to finish off, which is a let-down. Maybe he's planning a sequel?

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          22.08.2000 20:06
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          From the world's bestselling author, Stephen King, comes a tale of genetic exploration gone to hellfire! Young Charlie McGee is a very special girl. The result of scientific experimentation on her parents, she has the ability 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! Not the best of King, but still worthwhile..

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          17.08.2000 08:50
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          An incredible story about a little girl with an awesome power that sets in motion a chain of events filled with intrigue and adventure while caught in an arm of a political system on a bent for ultimate power. Her power to start fires sends those who seek to control her on a road to ultimate destruction in their pursuit to harness her talents for their own ends. All this is going on while her only surviving parent, her father, tries to save her from those in pursuit of her and give her a normal life. In the end she releases her unbridled power to an almost apocalyptic ending and you will find yourself cheering as she does... A great story you will really enjoy, and a very different kind of novel.

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          13.07.2000 23:38

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          From begining to end, Firestarter is a gripping, emotional, terrifying experience. King does an excellent job of making the reader feel sad for Andy and Charlie, and makes them all wish Vicky hadnt died, and that they could live a nomral life. Rainbird was evil, sinister, but also an object of pity. Excellent plot, excellent story, I only wish that I knew what happened to Charlie affter the unexpected ending.... What I wouldnt give for 100 more pages of this quality

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          01.07.2000 05:32
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          This was the first book by Stephen King that I ever read, way back when, and it got me completely hooked! I think it may even be the best book I’ve ever read. Without going into too much detail, it’s the story of a little girl who has inherited strange psychic abilities (namely to start fires!) from her parents, who took part in a bizarre drug experiment for the government, who have since been trying to eliminate everyone involved. Although categorised as ‘horror’, it’s not a scary or gory book, but it deals with some very weird subjects. Stephen King’s imagination must have been working overtime to come up with the idea for this book, it really has a very original storyline. Anyone who likes Stephen King and who hasn’t already read this, then I highly recommend that you do so!

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