Some people say that Firestarter is not one of Stephen King’s best books. Firestarter was written in the early King years when he was definitely going through a horror sci-fi phase and there are undeniable similarities in the plot of other Stephen King books written mid-seventies to the early eighties, such as Carrie, The Shining and The Dead Zone, all of which had characters blessed, or otherwise, with physic powers.
Stephen King’s Firestarter was first published in English on September 29, 1980 by Viking Press and it is a Stephen King book that definitely belongs on the shelves of the library that are labelled Science Fiction / Horror. It’s a tale of a young girl, Charlie, who has, courtesy of an experiment by a shady government agency known as “The Shop” on her parents, gained the ability of pyrokinesis.
“The Shop” finds out about Charlie’s pyrokinesis and they want to use the little girl as a weapon. Following a botched attempt by the Shop to capture Charlie that resulted in the death of her mother, Charlie and her father, go on the run.
What “The Shop” fails to take into account is that even a little girl can get angry and gain a thirst for revenge.
Firestarter is a mesmerising book and it is written in a way that only Stephen King could write such a book. As usual, you are drawn into the characters and the story in such a way that you really do care about what will happen in the end.
Stephen King’s Firestarter was adapted into the film of the same name starring Drew Barrymore as Charlie. The film was directed by Mark L. Lester and it got very mixed reviews at the time of release. It certainly starts off well, but it does seem to tail off a bit half way through. Firestarter the movie certainly isn’t awful, but it won’t ever be called a classic and it doesn’t have the underlying menace that the book does.
The soundtrack for the Firestarter movie was made by the German electronic music collective Tangerine Dream. It is said that the group never even saw the film before they composed music. They just sent in a number of tracks to the director and told him he could use whenever ones he liked.
The Stephen King book Firestarter has all the hallmarks of an early Stephen King book. It has his usual superb storytelling, amazing characterisations and a good dose of sci-fi horror to keep things moving along. It also has the perceptive description of a father - daughter relationship. The reason that some people don’t rate Firestarter as highly as they do other Stephen King books is that the basic premise of the story is that a father and his pyrokinetic daughter are on the run from the authorities, or, in other words, a road trip story with a sci-fi twist. Still, if anyone can make such a basic premise highly readable; it’s Stephen King.