I’ve been hearing great things about #contagion So I can’t wait to start reading… plus science fiction! Got all inspired to get some research done at the Lab too!
I’ve been hearing great things about #contagion So I can’t wait to start reading… plus science fiction! Got all inspired to get some research done at the Lab too!
I’m in the mood for a good science fiction book – has anyone read this? Getting my geek on!
A little disappointed in the companion novel to ‘Every Day,’ but now have the third book in this collection in my hot little hands ‘Someday.’ Really excited to see what is in store for A, and if we explore a bit more mythology of this world.
Great movie, but it is a struggle to read this novel. Looking forward to the sequel and some more of Brad Pitt on the big screen :p Filming starts this coming summer, so not long to wait now.
You certainly get a feel for the 80’s. So many references. The novel was a nostalgic read. The film is comparatively in the style of horror movies being produced in the early 80’s as well, though it has some great special effects for its time.
As much as I loved this book – the protagonist Charlie, the paranormal ability of pyrokenesis, the antagonists in The Shop – ‘Firestarter’ felt like a long read. Normally I fly through books like this, but it took me over a week to reach the end. I was continually needing a rest as King went off in tangents and titbits of backstory for secondary characters. It brought the pacing down somewhat. But I appreciated all of that extra information – it really fleshed out the world and characters… so it was a tug-of-war for me between liking Kings writing style and getting bored with it. In the end the amazing writing and subject matter won out: you can always skim the uninteresting bits. As far as the film goes by comparison, there is no let down in the pacing, no chance to tear your eyes off the screen. The action is kept going from start to finish, with a few flashback scenes (as in the novel) for context and backstory, though with parts of the original story cut for time constraints, some things don’t make the best sense.
Some scenes were more gruesome than I expected, but upon completing the novel version of ‘Firestarter’ I kind of wanted more. More horror. More action. But I guess it would have been unrealistic with a child as the protagonist – that kind of action would have twisted her into something monstrous and broken or dead inside. The movie obviously omitted some on-screen deaths and gore to keep it in a marketable ‘M’ rating.
The depiction of Charlie in the novel felt intelligent beyond her years, but still had the innocence of youth in her view of the world. It was phenomenal to read about the psychic powers growing within her, (and those of other characters.) You get a small character arc with Charlie, but because the narrative takes on many points of view and encompasses many characters, there is more going on around her. I think that was another thing slowing the pace down for me – following some of the other characters just wasn’t as interesting. The film version of Charlie, played by Drew Barrymore comes off as more of an obstinate child at times.
With all the training Charlie is meant to have up until the scene where the movie opens, this alludes that Charlie can pretty much control her powers, but the Airport scene depicts her as not being able to control her ability or not wanting to use it. Not matching the narrative of the novel at all. This scene from the film also tips The Shop off about her ability, yet in the novel it is kept in question up until well over halfway, where she uses this fact as a bargaining tool with the scientists trying to test her.
Charlie’s powers are meant to be effortless to use (depicted in the novel,) but the heavy breathing, sweating, use of a wind machine to dramatize Drew Barrymore’s depiction of the pyrokenesis – and how she repeats “Back off” to switch it off, make the use of her ability a little clunky and awkward for the film. Charlie never vocalised her ‘cool-down’ in the novel, and her ability was used easily – hence the training.
When Charlie was in with The Shop, they drugged her to inhibit her use of her ability, yet in the film, even though they knew of her ability, they did not use this method of control. Instead may of the scientists walked around in hilarious looking thermal suits.
Additionally, in the film with Charlie befriending Rainbird, she confides just about everything and never draws her own conclusions to his deception. Where in the novel she is much more intelligent and mistrusting. She also gets a note from her father informing her of Rainbirds true intentions, leading to her forming a plan of escape. I wish we had seen the more aware and strategic version of Charlie on the big screen. Even after the first demonstration of Charlie’s power in the film, while everyone is distracted she walks back into her room… where in the novel she takes the opportunity to find her father. Dumbing down her character was detrimental to this film. Even with all these issues in context and story Barrymore’s portrayal of Charlie is epic. A true testament to her acting chops at such a young age.
Andy (Charlie’s Dad) was the dedicated loving father, nurturing and supporting Charlie, instilling right and wrong, ‘Firestarter’ is as much his story as hers. I feel that we don’t get as much character development as we could because this is essentially a cat-and-mouse chase story, tumbling from one escape to the next.
The biggest difference to the written version to the one played by David Keith in the film, was how his ability was portrayed. It was meant to be mental dominance, yet somehow he manages to affect phone booths to extract coins, and change television channels without the use of a remote. Was he meant to have different abilities in the film? The dramatization of Andy using his ability felt overacted. Grabbing his head, a bloody nose. Even though thie is typical treatment for the time of its release, I wasn’t sold. In the novel he got headaches, disorientated, and exhausted. Using his ability is said to give him mirco-aneurisms, a blood nose was overkill. Leaving Charlie to take the lead in taking care of him and ensure their safety.
Another aspect explained in the novel was the ricocheting of Andy’s ability, it’s set up in the narrative, and shows a history and line of progression – in the film however we get a scene around one character seeing snakes with no context.
Rainbird is the quintessential antagonist from King. He manages to paint interesting and layered bad guys that still give off an aura of pure evil. It’s easy to see why so many of his novels get the film treatment. With the native American Indian background, it felt like a foreshadowing of diverse writing that we see today – even if there are colours of stereotyping and discrimination (as too in dealing with transvestism.) Villainising minority groups in the time ‘Firestarter’ was published was commonplace.
As for the depiction of Rainbird in the film: George C Scott is not Native American, I think I was offended by this more than any other change for the movie adaptation (thank heavens he wasn’t in blackface.) Additionally, there was no setup, no backstory to build this iconic antagonist. The film left Rainbird feeling two dimensional. The same thing happened to The Shop’s spies near Charlie’s Grandfathers cabin – no set up or backstory – there was no context to validate why they were even there. In the novel they lived at the place for months, in the film, days.
The final battle scene at the Barn has some major differences. We get all the Hollywood treatment of Charlie puffing and shooting fireballs, evaporating bullets for the film. When the horses are set free, none get shot or catch on fire like in the novel. The special effects of some of the bad guys catching on fire is a bit hilarious as they just stand still screaming. Umm, I’d be running and failing, rolling on the ground. But I did like how one guy gets blown in to a tree fully ablaze from Charlie’s psychic blast.
The novel shows Charlie taking out the entire compound (and people), where the film has her exhibiting much more restraint in carnage. The book suggests Charlie’s abilities extend much further than pyrokenesis, but the movie keeps her psychic power within the confines of a Firestarter.
The novel ends on Charlie contacting the ‘New York Times’ – a reputable newspaper; but the novel has her going into the offices of the ‘Rolling Stone’ because it was the only publication independent of the reach of The Shop to have her (and her Father’s) story published.
The writing of the novel is somewhat dated. The references are solidly entrenched in the 70-80’s. Technology, attitudes… it was nostalgic in a way, and also had me thanking god we’ve evolved from that place. Stephen King has a resounding writing style – descriptive and distinctly dry and masculine. Though he has a tendency to repeat things a number of times. And a perchance to long drawn-out exposition. This had me skimming a page or two. It also slowed down the pace and I was frequently putting the book down for a rest. While I enjoyed the film, it does not stand the test of time and fails to compare to the book.
I won’t comment on predictability – I’d read the book and seen the film before, plus it’s such a well-known story the plot was all but spoiled long ago. Looking forward to the film remake currently in development to see how they modernise ‘Firestarter’ and tie it into the Stephen King universe at large. It’s rumoured for a late 2019 to a 2020 release. I hope we will get to see Drew Barrymore return and possibly play the role of Victoria McGee, Charlie’s mom. Fingers crossed.
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Books that I award 5 stars to usually affect me in some way: strike an emotional cord, surprise me with the plot or writing, or allow me to completely escape into a fantasy world (or all of the above)… and I don’t award that perfect score lightly. So I thought I’d take a look at how many novels fall into this category; both read and published within the last 5 years.
I was surprised that it only consisted of seven books. Out of the over 400 novels I’ve read in the past 5 years, the list below were the only ones to shine. Maybe I need to start reading more new releases? Let’s take a look:
The Martian by Andy Weir
I’m a huge sci-fi geek. It’s what got me into reading in my youth. But I think what resonated with me from ‘The Martian’ was how plausible it felt. Much of the novel is grounded in applicable science. Plus, I love working through problems. It was a real case of every obstacle being thrown at protagonist Mark Watney, and he systematically finding a solution to keep surviving. MacGuyver on Mars!
Illuminae, Obsidio by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
This series is action from start to finish. It has sassy, sarcastic, and diverse protagonists, a countdown, and more than one antagonist working against our heroes. With a narrative of collected documents, the pace kept going, and grabbed snippets of different perspectives in this action packed soap opera. The middle book ‘Gemina’ didn’t quite match the calibre of its companions, but this is a trilogy I’d recommend to anyone who wants a sci-fi read.
Cress by Marissa Meyer
I really have to get on with finishing up the rest of this collection! With a fairytale re-telling twist, this science fiction saga brings loveable characters that feel both new and familiar. I was struck at how the storyline kept to the tone of the original fairytales, but still managed to tell a completely new story. This series is the one that opened the door to re-imaginings of old fables. I’m interested to see where it all goes. ‘Winter’ is calling me…
Simon vs. the Homo Sapien Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Such a cute, quirky contemporary. I both laughed and cried out loud. It was so in touch with teen awkwardness and working out who you are that I could not put it down. So glad the film followed not long after, which I enjoyed thoroughly as well. None of the Creekwook books have lived up to Simon yet, but it is nice to stay in the universe for a while longer.
The Five Stages of Andrey Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson
This was a dark horse of a book. I remember being tentative about this read at first, but it has become a favourite. It does deal with protagonist Andrew and his identity and orientation, but mainly it’s about dealing with grief. With an edgy contemporary style, and having to personally deal with losing a family member a year of two earlier, this resonated with me. Grief hits you in unexpected ways and can hang around for quite some time. It can ruin you, change your life. Sometimes it’s about crying, saying goodbye, and getting on with things; and sometimes it’s not. Shaun David Hutchinson’s writing style really stood out to me. A brilliant stand alone.
A Court of Thorns and Roses Sarah J. Maas
I’m not big on fantasy, but having found a new love for re-tellings, and the hype around Sarah J. Maas, I gave this trilogy a chance. I have to admit I was surprised by how compelling protagonist Feyre’s story is. How Maas interpreted the tale of ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ We get a ballsy heroine, a trickster of a beast, and such an imaginative fae world… and the ending was not what I expected. So this one gets full marks for great escapism, strong female characters, and surprises.
And that’s it. All of my other 5 star reads were published much earlier and did not fit into this discussion. Four science fiction, two contemporary, and one fantasy. Considering my favourite genres are YA, Science Fiction and Horror/Thriller, I expected quite a different list. But that’s how the cookie crumbles.
Do you have any 5 star recommendations? Let me know in the comments, I need to start populating this list with more books!
In the meantime, happy reading.
A car crash… your friends disappear… and something invisible is stalking you…
Genre: Y/A, Science Fiction
No. of pages: 378
No one believes Remi’s account of the night Vincent disappeared.
How the night sky lit up like day, how they lost control of the car and crashed into a ravine, how she remembers seeing a nine-foot-tall man—and how when she woke up the next morning, the only thing left of her best friend were his footprints, fleeing off into the dark woods only to come to an end, inexplicably, in the middle of a clearing.
If the urban legends are to be believed, he’s been swallowed by an ancient, nameless evil.
And she’s next.
This has to be my most favoured book from Dan Rix so far! ‘The Summer It Came For Us’ starts off with a bang and never lets up.
The characters are nuanced and typically YA – but not in an annoying way. I’ve found many of Rix’s characters can get on my nerves, but in ‘The Summer It Came For Us’ the cast were realistic, relatable, and often comical.
Protagonist Remi was like every horror movie heroine. Sufficiently girlie, stubborn, and has some guts; empathic and curious. I enjoyed her journey of self-discovery the most. Though she was a strong character, there was still something forgettable – or I should say, typical about her. I think because there is so much action, and running, that we don’t get to see her personality develop outside the immediate threat. Maybe a few scenes alluding to her past could have fleshed out her character a bit more, made her more memorable. But that is me being nit-picky. Remi is interesting, sensible, intelligent, and not afraid to stand up when it really counts.
Love interest Malcolm – we see him set up as a bit of a dick. And at first I was really confused why he deserved that wrap. And after finishing the novel, I’m still perplexed. He did not exhibit any of the phallic behaviour that we’d expect. I’m putting it down to him having a home life of a drug addicted mother and an alcoholic father: everyone just assumed he was bad news. Yes, he was guarded and stoic – but wouldn’t you be if you grew up in that environment? It was some great misdirection. Though I would have liked his undeserved reputation established a bit more solidly in the beginning to really drive home his character arc.
Vincent, Remi’s little brother’s best friend (and person of colour) is the most endearing character. A true innocent victim of circumstance. He seems to be the object around which all the other characters revolve – even if they don’t notice it.
Zoe. Insert any blonde haired best friend here. Hysterical. Screaming and running. The kind of chick that gets bumped off early in any horror movie. Though she was supportive, I was hoping she would lend more to the storyline than a potential victim.
The final character to round out this gang of bumbling teens is Jace, who wraps up every teen boy I went to high school with. A loud annoying prankster. Doesn’t listen to anyone. Again. Like with Zoe, I kind of wanted him to contribute more towards the plot. Give some insight or expose a plot point. It’s not that I don’t like either of these characters, just that I didn’t want them to be so generic. *spoiler* because when it appears we lost them I was not affected emotionally *end spoiler*
I pretty much guessed the science behind the story within the first three chapters – and that hypothesis was confirmed more and more as clues were dropped. The only thing that was threw me was the Glipper… I mean WTF was that. It was a bit of paranormal, a bit of mystic, a bit of alien added into the theoretical science of it all. While part of me feels like it shouldn’t have been there, that it didn’t make sense; another part loved the monster concept, and a voice in the back of my head saying aliens, or alien technology could look like magic to us. So, although the Glipper is not fully explained, I enjoyed its part in the story and loved the tension it played on our cast.
There is a clear evolution in Rix’s writing he is definitely getting better with each novel. The pacing and tension are so much tighter than I’ve experienced from his previous works. The writing style is light and quick to read. I’d love to see him start to bring in some more complexity in word usage – he’s drawing on some pretty variegated scientific theories, and I’d love to see some of that cerebral matter transpose into the narrative. Maybe if the protagonists weren’t always young adults we’d see a much different tone? That is a book I’d love to read.
Completed in a day and something I’d happily recommend to YA lovers, or those looking for a light sci-fi thriller.
Overall feeling: Go you good thing!