5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
An overlooked gem and a crackling story,
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This review is from: Firestarter (Paperback)
Andy McGee, a young student, willingly takes part in a medical experiment to raise a little cash. The experiment, sponsored by a shady government organisation called "The Shop" leaves him (and his future wife) with telepathic/telekinetic powers. Many years later and Andy is on the run from The Shop with his daughter, who has inherited her parents' powers (and then some), in tow. Their pursuers (inevitably) want to conduct a few "experiments" on Andy and Charlie...
It's been mentioned in another review that Firestarter is one of King's most emotionally compelling books and I have to agree. I rarely experience particularly strong emotional reactions to even very good books: I don't think I've ever read a story that scared me, or made me happy, or want to cry. However, Firestarter is one (possibly the only one? No - there was Gallipoli) that /really/ moved me and I can vividly remember first reading it (many years ago) and being sucked in by the story and engaging with it as if it were reality (and for a book about telekinesis, that's quite an achievement!). In fact, I would go so far as to say that I found Andy and Charlie's plight heartbreaking. Don't worry, there's no gratuitously gory medical experimentation or anything like that. What moved me was Andy's devotion to his young daughter, Charlie's innocence and the dispassionate, detatched cruelty of their tormentors. I'll say it again, because it still surprises me - this is a moving, upsetting, sad and engaging story. It's not (for me anyway) a tearjerker but it really did tug on my heartstrings.
OK so it's all a bit cliched; innocent fugitives on the lam from a sinister government organisation, covert weapons research, yadda yadda yadda. But, like so many of King's novels, it still works. Whatever his critics may say about his material, he has a real gift for producing characters that you really /care/ about. The relationship between Charlie and her father is one example, but even King's baddies are done well enough that you care enough about them to hate them. Thus The Shop's supervisor, Captain Hollister (surely a model for Kurtz in Dreamcatcher) and his go-to-man, Rainbird, are strong, vivid, interesting (if just a little hackneyed) characters.
King never disappoints. Perhaps, over the years, and with so many books under his belt, his stuff may occasionally seem a little "samey" in various ways; the same old characters, the same old dialogue, the same old monsters and baddies. However, I think Firestarter has stood up very well indeed to the passage of time (thirty years!) and the relentless tide of his subsequent works (around sixty novels and short story collections!) and it is as good a book today as it seemed then.
Highly recommended... No. VERY highly recommended