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The Stephen King Project: Firestarter

Hi friends, happy Friday, I hope you are all well! Today I’m back with the next novel in my Stephen King Project. Firestarter is King’s 6th novel and the first one in the 1980s.

Read more: The Stephen King Project: Firestarter

I read this from January 23, 2022 – May 22, 2022 (4 months)

The Book (1980)

  • The reader is wowed by how intriguing and fast paced the opening couple pages are. We really get a sense of the story early on; we’re learning about the characters at a good pace, and they aren’t horrible. The reader is getting Carrie vibes, but on a more developed level; really excited to see how this plays out.
  • The reader can feel the tension building. They also like the fact that this is told in the form of present and flashbacks. This helps to understand the characters better and what has happened to them to put them in the place they’re in. We don’t quite know all the details but slowly things are falling into place and the reader can’t wait to find out more.
  • We get a chapter in the point of view from the people who ran the study our main character, Andy, did back in college. From here we learn more about why they’ve been watching him and watching his daughter. It felt a little long; the reader hopes that all the exposition we’ve been given will play out in the end and wasn’t extra words to fill a page.
  • Our main characters are still on the run. The way this is told is really intriguing – the back and forth between Andy and Charlie and the police who are after them really heightens the pace and the stakes. The reader has no idea how these two are going to escape… if they do. Plus, the developments we get of Charlie are starting to round out the character.
  • Andy and Charlie have made another narrow escape; it was interesting to see Charlie’s powers in action once more. We also learned a little about the man who is behind the chase of these two; a man hungry for death. The reader is curious to know more and to see where the two will end up next. We’ll miss Irv and Norma; they were great side characters.
  • We take a bit of a pause to catch our breath. Everything has been go, go, go until this moment so it was good to take a minute. The characters, mostly Andy, are taking time to reflect on the past and how it’s going to effect the future. The writing was a bit dull, but the reader is ok with this, as long as it doesn’t continue this way.
  • We’re caught in a flashback, one that brings us to the day Andy’s wife has been murdered and he must save Charlie. It was good to get some backstory even though we’ve suspected how things happened. The flashback was fast-paced and left the reader wanting more as we learn more about these characters – their powers and personalities.
  • We’re back to the present, but it feels like we’re getting some foreshadowing as mysterious letters are being sent and the reader isn’t quite sure how they fit into the story just yet. All Andy and Charlie want is to stop running, maybe this is their chance? This definitely leaves the reader hungry for more.
  • Things are starting to pick up and get intense. We learn of plans to capture Charlie and potentially kill Andy. We got a slow chapter but then it was proceeded by a fast chapter; one to give us the exposition of the plan; one to actually execute it. This now leaves the reader stunned and ready to see what happens next.
  • Andy and Charlie have been captured and separated and the reader has no idea what is going to happen next. We’re not sure what the end game is, if they’re going to be killed, used for something – the reader is curious to find out. Hopefully, the plot does pick up because this last stretch has been slow.
  • Andy and Charlie are still separated when the power goes out and we get a lot of exposition. We learn more about Andy, which is good, and we learn more about this character John who has gotten close to Charlie. This part was also a drag to read because it was just 40ish pages of all tell. The reader is looking for some action and the pace to pick up come the next chapter.
  • Charlie and John are getting closer as the weeks pass and the more she’s kept away from her father and monitored. The middle of the book seems to be moving in slow motion as the plot hasn’t picked up much. We learn small bits about the characters but the reader wants to move past this to figure out what they want Charlie for exactly; that’s still a very big mystery.
  • The pace is starting to pick up again finally. It’s felt like a long time since the action has moved. They’ve finally pushed Charlie to make fires again & Andy has found out which has caused him to use his powers again to find out where they’re keeping her. Now it feels like a matter of time before they’re reunited. The reader still wants to know what they plan to use them for and why they’re being held.
  • Things are really starting to get heated. Everyone is officially terrified of Charlie (except John & her father). Speaking of, Andy is using his mind control ability to get info on where they have Charlie & he’s going to what we assume is, save her. This is exciting; the tension is definitely building back up again & the reader is hoping for some good rising action before an explosive finish.
  • We’ve got ourselves a plot twist; so John who we were led to believe was a good guy… actually isn’t and we’ve been given some foreshadowing, although it’s been slightly implied the entire time, that the Shop people want to use Charlie’s fire ability for evil. The plot is definitely thickening and the reader is ready for the ride.
  • So we’ve sort of figured out why they’re keeping Charlie, and it makes sense. Now she has a choice of either saving her father and always being on the run or John who apparently understands her and can keep her safe from all these guys. It’s definitely a tough ultimatum and the reader is on the edge of their seat wondering which path Charlie will choose.
  • And then there was one… things have definitely exploded and now Charlie is left to think about the consequences of what she’s chosen, which is a lot for an eight-year-old. The back and forth of them vs her was good because it hyped up and quickened the pace of the story. The reader is still curious what will happen to Charlie and how it will ultimately end.

Final thoughts: This didn’t end the way the reader thought it would. The first part was surprising, but in a good way – it was good to see the Manders again; the second part was surprising in a meh kinda way. It was sorta meta and this reader doesn’t really like meta endings. Overall though, this was well written; the plot was intriguing and the characters were memorable, whether they were good or bad. The beginning was solid and really sucked the reader in; the middle kinda dragged, but by the end it picked back up and had a pretty decent ending, one the reader can live with.

The Movie (1984)

Firestarter (1984) - IMDb
Firestarter (1984)
  • This was definitely a great adaption of the book. Everything was added and it didn’t feel too long or short. Some of the scenes were changed, or tweaked, and moved around a bit for the sake of visual story telling.  
  • The movie really makes you hate Rainbird so much more because you can see his sinister face and see the way he doesn’t care about these people; his fake and pretend compassion is so unnerving. He basically orchestrates all the experiments with Charlie. 
  • In the book there are way more characters as part of the Shop government and so it’s not as clear that Rainbird is the evil one.
  • The movie also really makes it clear why The Shop people have kept Charlie and Andy hostage, whereas the book was more secretive towards it and the reader was always questioning it. Everything feels laid out in the open in the movie. 
  • A few things were different from the end; like finding out the truth about Rainbird. They waited until the end instead of using the note; it did leave that scene with higher stakes and left it more climatic. 
  • They really went all out with that ending when Charlie blows everything up, wow. That was intense.
  • In the end it was a very faithful adaption and just as good as the book. 

(2000)

Firestarter 2: Rekindled (TV Mini Series 2002) - IMDb
Firestarter Rekindled (2000)
  • Not only is this a sequel to the original, it’s also a remake of the first film and that’s why this movie is almost 3 hours long – two movies in one.
  • Most of what happened in the book and first movie are told in the form of flashbacks as we get to know Charlie as a young adult. 
  • The flashbacks weren’t really needed though; if you’ve seen the first movie or read the book you know what happened and so having these flashbacks felt over used at times. 
  • They made Rainbird the ultimate creep in this. Not only is he creepy to look at, everything that comes out of his mouth is gross. 
  • Plus the weird obsession he has with Charlie is super repulsing.
  • It’s intriguing and compelling to watch, even if it comes off as cheesy at times. 
  • Although, nearing the two hour mark it really starts to drag. Between the unnecessary flashbacks and the added background that bears no relevance to the story, it gets tiring to watch. 
  • The addition of more kids who have different powers was interesting. 
  • Overall, this was a good concept, but it kinda just redid the original movie but just as Charlie older. 

(2022)

Firestarter (2022) Poster : r/stephenking
Firestarter (2022)
  • First off it’s so strange to see Zac Efron as a dad.
  • It’s interesting what they chose to use from the book. It was such a small portion that was used in passing; they did change it a bit, in the book there’s a part where Andy uses his mind power to make bigger woman feel skinner. In the movie they chose to change it helping people quit smoking.
  • Also interesting take on Rainbird. They’ve made him a victim of the Shop, but then he’s also working for them after what they did to him. His motives are still sketchy. 
  • This only loosely followed the book. All the elements were there but it felt like it was only the bear bones of it, like a condensed version. It didn’t feel like we spent enough time in this world to get a full grasp of anything. 
  • The explanation of the Shop was very brief and didn’t really say much so if you don’t have the back history of the book this feels like it could have been a very incomplete and confusing experience. 
  • The characters were flat and felt very dull. They tried to give them some sort of backstory but in the hour and half given there wasn’t a lot of time for it. 
  • Again, interesting how this one ended. Rainbird didn’t die in this one and Charlie chose to trust him to go with him. 
  • In the end not really sure this remake was necessary; it didn’t bring anything new to the table. It was a more modern take on this, but just lacked character and substance. 

Up Next: Cujo

Up Next: Cujo

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