CBR Bingo category: Birthday (Stephen King, born September 21, 1947)
Firestarter feels very much like it could be one of the inspirations behind Stranger Things. A young woman has special abilities thanks to government experiments gone wrong and the government does everything it can to keep her under its control.
Charlene “Charlie” McGee is the product of an unlikely marriage. Her mother and father signed up for an experiment in college because they each needed the $200 pretty badly. The mysterious drug known as Lot Six left most of the test subjects insane but instead, Andy and Vicki fell for each other immediately and got married and started a family. They themselves had some psychic abilities, but as far as the government is concerned, Charlie is the real star of the show.
You see, if the title doesn’t make it obvious, Charlene is able to set things on fire with her mind.
King follows Charlie and her father on the lam from the feds, hiding out in remote locations and relying on the kindness of strangers. He also depicts the banal evil of the government agency tasked with bringing them in. The seeming normality of these men and women is chilling compared to the lengths they are willing to go in the name of “protecting” the country from Charlie McGee and her fantastic abilities.
While the book’s simple plot is stretched pretty thin across nearly 600 pages, King’s characters (in particular, an insane Native American federal agent named John Rainbird) are memorable and his plotting sound. While not classic King, Firestarter is an enjoyable read, whether or not it helped inspire a certain Netflix show.