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
Ms. Friedman is not the first to mix science fiction & fantasy--Gene Wolfe did it better--& the world she has created with this concoction isMs. Friedman is not the first to mix science fiction & fantasy--Gene Wolfe did it better--& the world she has created with this concoction is very compelling. Erna is a world to be explored--it's characters, it's societies, it's nations--but we are left with a story devoid of soul.
The main characters--a warrior-priest (Damien), an adept (Ciani) & a very evil Neoprophet (Tarrant, aka., The Hunter)--are all anti-heroes & not very likable--self-centered creeps are abound in this novel. I believe Friedman did herself a disservice by not going the full-monty of exploring this world deeper than she presents it. It would have molded her characters better--allowing her world to shape them into what they are so we, the readers, will understand them better. I loved her description of the CORE of the galaxy rising in the night sky & how the seismic activity of the planet causes huge waves many stories high to batter the planets surface along the coasts. Also, the Fae, a source of magic-like power which flows through the planet like a life-blood, & how it is shaped for an adept's purposes is a very imaginative concept--very impressive to a seasoned sci-fi/fantasy reader. All this painted a world I wanted to know more about. I wanted the planet to become a character too. When this didn't happen, I found the author to be lazy--don't tease me with great imagination & not follow through.
I didn't find myself caring for any of the characters & to have the novel fall into the "Quest" category--a very uninspired quest at that--made me sad that a very interesting world was wasted in being a major part of the novel. There are some cool scenes though, peppered among the long, long quite redundant prose. One of my favorite scenes is when Ciani's servant/helper, Senzei, who so desperately wants to become an adapt, places a drop of Solar Fae (the alien power flowing through the planet & the "holy water" of Damien's church) on his tongue making his body literally go supernova--very cool.
But of all the characters, the warrior-priest, Damien, was the most interesting to me. I would've liked to have learned more of his background with his church--how he became a warrior & a priest & how the two vocations were melded together? This would've really helped bringing light to the background of the planets societies--its religion & politics. But, unfortunately, these questions were never addressed making the 600+ page novel a long dull experience--all focus being on the "Now" & hardly ever witnessing the "Then".
Part of me wants to but I don't think I'll continue this trilogy....more
Fans of ENDER'S GAME--BEWARE! This is not on par with that novel in any way. Personally, I can't believe how many of the novels within this series I'vFans of ENDER'S GAME--BEWARE! This is not on par with that novel in any way. Personally, I can't believe how many of the novels within this series I've read when I realize I should have ended with this one. To me, this novel felt like it was one of Card's many forgotten manuscripts, written while he was a writer honing his craft, left at the bottom of a desks drawer in a beat up manila folder to gather dust. Then, when the Ender novels garnered much appraisal & awards, Card's publisher must have asked: "What else you got?" & lo, we have this novel.
It's not a good novel, nor is it the worst. It has a lot to be desired & even though it is the first in a series, its main flaw is failing to make the reader want to continue--to take the journey through so many other books to reach a conclusion. Even by writing that last sentence within this review makes me realize how mediocre this book is. I'd continue with a synopsis but the one Goodreads provides is good enough as an overview. I don't see much point in expounding upon it.
I will say this: There are a lot of blatant Mormon undertones (Card is from Utah &, if I remember correctly, an excommunicated Mormon) & the reverse polygamy within the novel is not at all shocking--Women on the planet Harmony can chose more than one male to mate with & it's encouraged--hell, it's contracted! It provides an interesting look at family values within the planet's society & is played out within the main character's family through the interaction between the siblings. Also, the idea that the satellite orbiting the planet, Oversoul, has the ability to block certain ideas that may form within the populations' minds, resulting in no technological advances & weapons, shows how freewill is stunted & human growth with it. Could this be a statement by Card on how religion does the same--by placing blind faith within a god can lead to the hijacking of one's liberties, whether it be vocal or thought? Or is he merely rewriting The Book of Mormon? To emphasize my point: The realization by certain people on the planet Harmony that Earth is something to be sought out again makes me think of the Mormons pilgrimage to their land of Zion. Plus, the Index of the Oversoul is plainly a metaphor for The Book of Mormon & the main character whom the Oversoul mentally communicates with is clearly the society's John Smith.
All these concepts are interesting but are played out within what I believe to be a very weak novel masked in science fiction. They need a stronger structure & a better cast of characters who are far more interesting than the ones presented in THE MEMORY OF EARTH. I wanted to like this novel--I really did--but I think it reveals more of a sermon by Card than an sci-fi epic. I believe he intended to make a great series but there's a reason why certain stories should remain at the bottom of a desk drawer--a reason why they were put there in the first place. It's exactly like what I've said about people who pull "lost" recordings of John Lennon out of the vaults: There's a reason why they're still in the vaults & why they're "lost".
So after reading this one, why do I have two other titles in the series on my list? They're there because I borrowed the audio books from the library when I was driving on a long trip & I wanted to see if the story got any better. It didn't. ...more