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TITLE: The Fireman
AUTHOR: Joe Hill
Overall: ★★★★ (3.25)
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.
The fireman is coming. Stay cool.
No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.
Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.
Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.
Buy the book HERE!
MY 2 CENTS:
WRITING (★★★): This is the second book I’ve read from author Joe Hill, the first being 20th Century Ghosts. It is really well-written, aside from the fact that it is 749 pages and could have been trimmed down significantly without loosing any of the story. His long-winded writing style came as no surprise when I realized he is Stephen King’s son. However, when I read a Stephen King novel, I am drawn in completely. That didn’t happen with this story.
There were many times where the writing gave away too much to the reader. Foreshadowing the twists and turns in a way that made them predictable and anticlimactic when they did happen.
STORY (★★★★): The story starts out strong, with a powerful moment for one of our lead characters, Harper Grayson. However, shortly after it starts to slow to a snail’s pace. I found myself putting the book down rather than being compelled to read it.
The Fireman, at its heart, is based on a really cool premise – a spontaneous combustion plague that is wiping out humanity. We not only see how the plague destroys humanity but also how society changes, turns on itself, and ultimately destroys itself.
Hill creates some really great images through his writing, the bird of fire, the glow of the camp members as they sing, the woman of fire, and so many others. The problem I had, was that they were to few and far between.
When all is said and done, I still recommend reading this book. If you are at all a fan of Joe Hill, or his father, Stephen King, you should pick up a copy and read it. The premise is awesome… just be prepared to have to push through some of the slower parts in order to get to the really good parts.
PS… there is a hidden ending to this story. If you read the credits included at the end of the book, you’ll get a little surprise from the author.
CHARACTERS (★★★): The dialogue between the characters often felt forced and redundant. It seemed that character personalities changed depending on which characters were in the scene. My biggest issue with this was with Harper Grayson. Harper is a kind, loving nurse who just wants to help people. Then, when she is talking with The Fireman, after getting to the camp, the way she talks gets hard and brass. It didn’t feel natural.
I did feel however, that Hill was able to give solid character development to the main characters throughout the story. Although I couldn’t relate to many of them, I do feel like I was able to understand what motivated their actions.
APPEARANCE (★★★): I love this cover… There is just something about a cover printed with only 2-3 colors that draws my eye. The movement in the fire, throughout the lettering, is beautiful in a destructive way. It looks great and intrigues the reader, tempting you to find out what’s inside.
“There’s something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone ALWAYS dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.”
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OTHER BOOKS BY AUTHOR JOE HILL
NOS4A2 – The spine-tingling, bone-chilling novel of supernatural suspense from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman and Horns—now an AMC original series starring Zachary Quinto, Ebon Moss-Bachrach, and Ashleigh Cummings.
“A masterwork of horror.”— Time
Full Throttle – In this masterful collection of short fiction, Joe Hill dissects timeless human struggles in thirteen relentless tales of supernatural suspense, including “In The Tall Grass,” one of two stories co-written with Stephen King, basis for the terrifying feature film from Netflix.
Heart-Shaped Box – Judas Coyne is a collector of the macabre: a cookbook for cannibals . . . a used hangman’s noose . . . a snuff film. An aging death-metal rock god, his taste for the unnatural is as widely known to his legions of fans as the notorious excesses of his youth. But nothing he possesses is as unlikely or as dreadful as his latest discovery, an item for sale on the Internet, a thing so terribly strange, Jude can’t help but reach for his wallet… GET IT HERE!
Wolverton Station – Saunders made his fortune as a hatchet man for hire and has come to England to do what he does best: chop down the little guys to clear the way for a global firm. But his train north just made an unexpected stop to let on some passengers straight out of the worst kind of fairy tale. Now he’s up to his ankles in blood and finding out just what it really means to live in a dog-eat-dog world… GET IT HERE!
Wraith – The graphic novel prequel to the bestselling novel and upcoming AMC series NOS4A2!
Discover the terrifying funhouse world of Christmasland and the ageless monster who rules it. Climb into the passenger seat as Hill and artist Charlie Wilson III explore Charlie Manx’s twisted beginnings, introduce a new and depraved cast of characters to Christmasland, and take us for a 100 MPH ride down an icy nightmare road in a car with no brakes… GET IT HERE!
Horns – A twisted, terrifying new novel of psychological and supernatural suspense, Horns is a devilishly original triumph for the Ray Bradbury Fellowship recipient whose story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, was also honored with a Bram Stoker Award—and whose emotionally powerful and macabre work has been praised by the New York Times as, “wild, mesmerizing, perversely witty…a Valentine from hell.” GET IT HERE!
Strange Weather – A collection of four chilling novels, ingeniously wrought gems of terror from the brilliantly imaginative, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Fireman, Joe Hill.