Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Pub. Date: January 3rd, 2017
Pages: 768

Genres: Science Fiction / Horror / Thriller / Dystopian


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.

What Did I Think About the Story?

At this point, if you follow my blog at all, you are probably aware that I've become somewhat of a fangirl of Joe Hill. Over the last year or so I've been trying to read my way through his novels, short stories, and his comic book series (seriously, I'll say it again, listen to the audiobook of Locke and Key for the best audiobook I've still ever listened to), and if I haven't yet experienced them all I've at least purchased copies to read when I can. With all this being said I've now got pretty high hopes for any of his work I pick up, which can sometimes be a good thing and can sometimes lead to disappointment. Well, I'm happy to say that, with The Fireman, he exceeded everything I was expecting and gave me my favorite of his novels yet.

The synopsis above gives a pretty good overview of what the novel is about. What it doesn't describe is how well thought out and drawn this apocalyptic world Harper finds herself in is, with people reacting and acting just as you'd probably imagine. The world becomes a burning nightmare, full of scared people made vicious and often heartless by this fear, or simply by the fact that they are now able to let their inner monsters out without fear of reprisals. Balanced against this are a few people who stay true to at least part of their goodness, trying to survive without succumbing to the evilness around them. It's all just a completely immersive experience that is simply terrifying for how real it feels and how easily you could see something like this happening (at least the people's reactions).

All of the characters, whether you like them or not, are phenomenal as well. Harper, in particular, was a favorite. She's somehow gritty and mild-mannered at the same time...think of a Disney character as written by a horror novelist. She loves to sing and keep positive and find the light at the end of each tunnel, even when it's obscured by fire and smoke. She is determined to find a safe place for her baby at any cost, all while also retaining her humanity as much as possible. Even the spore itself becomes its own character, controlling it's hosts and making many of them display a mob-like behavior as a sort of mechanism for survival. We get to learn so much about this spore, along with all of the characters, that I couldn't help but be completely invested in how this madness could possibly end (which I found pretty realistic and somewhat sad).

The Fireman is a hefty tome of realistic terror and one that I thoroughly enjoyed reading. At it's core it is an epic journey of one woman's search for a safe place for her child and the remarkable people (good and bad) that she encounters along the way. It's full of hope, humor, horror, and sadness. It's a look at humanity, as well as the loss of it, and the idea that, no matter how hard life gets, it can continue with a lot of determination and a little bit of singing. Highly recommend!

What Did I Think About the Cover?

It's absolutely perfect for this story. Clearly the fire shown is prevalent and important to the overall story (I especially love the charred outlines) and I love how it is incorporated throughout the cover, including in the title and the author's name.

My Rating: 5.0/5.0

I purchased a copy of The Fireman for my own library. All opinions are mine alone. To find more information about the book, including other reviews and links to where you can purchase a copy, see Goodreads HERE.

Reviews of Other Books by Joe Hill


No comments:

Post a Comment