I have spoken before about book series based on table-top/RPG games, movies, etc., & I have given my opinion many times about this "sub-genre" ofI have spoken before about book series based on table-top/RPG games, movies, etc., & I have given my opinion many times about this "sub-genre" of publishing. I am usually against it--especially when it comes to D&D or video games (Gears of War, StarCraft)--but Dan Abbnet's Warhammer 40K novels turned that opinion around. But even with that said, I have a hard time with a novel series based on a comic. On one hand it should work because comics are written with the idea of the words & images appearing in print, thus tying them more closely with the prose book. But on the other hand, you are denied the art from the illustrators of the comic's characters. In other words: You don't get to "see" it. I'm sorry but I can't bring myself to read a Spider-man NOVEL or an X-Men NOVEL because I want to SEE the action while reading it. Superheroes need to be seen doing what they do best--action! But Judge Dredd is another case altogether.
Being a sci-fi based comic strip (yep, it's a strip--not a complete comic like here in the U.S.--that appears in the anthology comic mags, 2000AD & Judge Dredd Megazine) that has virtually a universe that rivals Marvel's, DC's & Image's even on a bad day, makes the possibility of a Dredd novel more plausible. Superheroes are non-existent in Dredd's universe & if they were, they would be judged by Dredd as soon as they were apprehended.
But, once again, I digress.
The prose novel favors Dredd's comics because of the sci-fi factor being in the forefront with it's social & political satire more ready for reading than seeing. With that said: I went into this novel with an open mind & because I'm a big fan of "Old Stony Face".
I could start off with a rundown of the plot but the description provided on its goodreads page is sufficient. Yes, there is a summit meeting among Senior Judges around the world to establish a network of extradition of perps to other Meg-Cits for crimes committed within their population. But this isn't the main plot. Yes, there is a devastating new weapon that will effect millions of civilians of Mega-City One, but the Judges as well. Again, it's not the main plot. The main plot is Judge Dredd vs. Jesus Bludd. Bludd wants to blackmail the planet's Judicial Systems for astronomical sums which would allow him to hold the world's economy in his hand to do with it as he will. He is a man without scruples--as most of Dredd's perps are--& is just another perp in a long list of Dredd's enemies.
Was it good? Let's just say I've read worse Dredd stories in his comics written by better writers (Garth Ennis & Grant Morrison come to the front please). Seriously, I have. & fans of Dredd know what I'm talking about. This is not a time-waster, but it comes close. It could have used more action but this is forgivable because Bishop's prose is not bad--but it's nothing earth-shaking as well. I would love to see Dan Abnett (Warhammer 40K novels) write a Dredd book because he would set the bar for other writers & he knows how to approach the subject matter because he also writes comics. As for Bishop? Bishop gives us a great Dredd story & I believe it could possibly earn a fourth star if it was in graphic novel form.
I liked it. It was good filler between the epic 1,000 page novels I'm reading when I wanted a break from being overwhelmed by them.
Will I read more Dredd novels? I am right now. ...more
Yes. This novel could have benefited from stricter red ink on the manuscript pages from King's editor. &, furthermore, it would have benefited KinYes. This novel could have benefited from stricter red ink on the manuscript pages from King's editor. &, furthermore, it would have benefited King--including the story--if he had written it as a novella instead of a novel.
This is a great plot-line that has been written by King before but is enhanced with the "innocence lost"-theme coursing through the character of Charlie. In some ways, King has hidden within the story that there is no greater crime or horror than stealing away an individual's childhood. How is it "hidden"? Within the borderline stereotypical "fugitive plot" he buries the Charlie's lost childhood theme--allowing it to be pondered by the reader later. & this makes the novel one of King's unsung examples of him developing as a novelist. He is at least attempting to not be the hack he truly is.
Sure, we've seen the "innocence lost" through psionics within King's earlier novels, Carrie & The Shining, but with his third stab at the story-line, even though it has its flaws, I believe Firestarter is the better novel of the three.
I love stories involving psionics (hell, I have a goodreads shelf dedicated to it) & when I first read Firestarter as an excerpt in Omni magazine, I foamed at the mouth to get my hands on a copy of the novel. Being a kid in the fifth or sixth grade at the time, I didn't know who S.King was & nor did I care. He wasn't completely a household name yet but he was about a year or two away from it. Regardless, I didn't know the author's name but the title & the excerpt I had read was enough to sell me on it--Pyrokenesis! I'm so in!
It wasn't until a year later--when it came out in paperback--that I got my hands on a copy. & I read. & read. & read. & found a thrill here. & a way cool action scene there. & a Native American hit man. & another thrill there. & dad who also has some psionics. & a clandestine science organization that has a cool name called "The Shop". & I read. & read. & then: Far out awesome Psionic Showdown with kid, Charlie, laying waste to everything around her--so cool!
Now, with all the "& read" parts I repeatedly wrote in the above paragraph--these are the parts of the novel where King's editor should have gone red-ink-apocalypse on his typed manuscript. It just rambles. & rambles. Only to be punctuated with just barely interesting plot or character development. His best scenes are the ones involving heavy action with Charlie releasing her "curse" (or "gift", depending on how you want to look at it) upon her abusive oppressors. Her "family moments" seem stereotypical & have the feeling of a Cronenberg Scanners scene that was left on the cutting room floor. Nevertheless, when King gets the action rolling, he's back into a groove that makes the story--pardon the pun--burn.
So with all this negativity towards the book, where does the 4-star rating come from? It comes from being a fan a novels involving psionics--there aren't enough of them. & the ones that do exist are not very good ones. Firestarter is one of the better ones--possessing a great concept that if developed properly could have spawned a series surrounding The Shop & the victims of their ultra-secret experiments. This possible series would have been far more interesting than that Dark Tower crap.
With some heavy editing--or a massive re-write if he still wanted it to be a novel--King's Firestarter could've been a hell of a lot better than it is. I'm a total fan of the concept & the execution wasn't completely successful, but it is a stand out novel about psionics....more