It would seem that Stephen King has had a long-standing fascination with the subject of kinesis in young women. After all, his first novel out of the box was Carrie, a story of a girl who had the ability to make the visions within her mind a reality.
In Firestarter, Charlie McGee, a young girl with the ability to start fires with her mind, hates the powers given to her as a result of drug experimentation that was performed on her parents before her birth. Charlie’s brother, Andy, also experiences slight telekinesis, but his “gift” is nowhere near as powerful as Charlie’s.
It goes without saying that the same government agency that experimented on Charlie’s parents also wants to harness Charlie’s ability. Murdering her mother, Charlie and Andy set out on the run in an attempt to evade the government agents who would turn her into nothing more than an experimental guinea pig.
Charlie and Andy make it only so far before they are captured by a government assassin by the name of John Rainbird. Charlie struggles with the moral dilemma of using her powers before she is forced to use them in an explosive conclusion to one of King’s most powerful and suspenseful novels.
Firestarter is not the first novel within King’s resume to question the motives of the government. Readers of The Stand might remember that it was the government who was partially to blame for the release of Captain Tripps and King frequently painted the government as an evil, authoritative figure in his Bachman books such as The Long Walk and The Running Man.
No doubt that readers and movie-goers of franchises such as The X-Men will find similarities to the classic mutant struggle within Firestarter. It is, after all, Charlie’s mutant abilities that begin the chase and cause her to be different from the majority of the human population.
Firestarter is proof that King can weave a good tale with threads that run through the horror, suspense, and science fiction genres. Readers will most certainly find themselves flipping through the pages as they attempt to discover Charlie’s final fate.
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