I had been on a mission to not only see the first time Firestarter was adapted to film before the new one came out but also to read the novel they were both based on. I have been able to do both and I’m glad that I did. Stephen King is one of my favorite writers not just in horror but in general. The way he writes characters and lets you feel for them all while some horrific stuff happens around them is my favorite thing about his writing.
The horrific stuff that happens in Firestarter is just barely out of the realm of possibility that it feels real. That’s honestly because, as people that have lived through government files being released, we know that outside of the psionic abilities the tests are close to what actually happened. By putting the McGees in the story as main characters King makes you want them to escape from the evil government agency, which is just called The Shop. Charlie McGee is one of the most powerful characters that King has ever written but you often forget that because she’s a small girl of five or six in the novel. All you want for her is to be able to live a life with her father. John Rainbird is devious and much more monstrous in the novel than he was in the first film adaptation. Him missing an eye and having a much more scarred appearance is something that wouldn’t have been easy to do when that movie was released.
The first film adaptation of the novel keeps a lot of the story the same. There are some characters cut but nothing all that major. There are locations changed and the movie’s timeline is much shorter than the book’s timeline. The biggest change, which is usually the case for book adaptations, is you don’t get to spend as much time with the characters in the movie. You don’t get the little nuances from their inner dialogue. The ending of the movie is basically the same but only a little more upbeat than the ending of the book.
Firestarter is a fun Stephen King novel that you should read if you’re a fan of his or if you’ve seen the adaptation. I’m looking forward to the new adaptation of the book coming out in about a month. I wonder how much has been changed and what they’ll have as the same. I do wonder if he has thought about tying this into his Dark Tower series. It would be an interesting thing to do. I give Firestarter 8 burnt teddy bears out of 10.