Review copy provided in exchange for an honest review
I’ve read all of Joe Hill’s novels after I came across this short story collection 20th Century Ghosts. His short stories were so fun and some so creepy I was instantly in love with his work. I read Heart Shaped Box and was more than hooked. When Horns was announced I knew I’d found a new favorite writer, boy oh boy how right I was. Then NOS4A2 came out and it was off to Christmasland for me, I loved it as much as everything I’d read before. After what felt like forever The Fireman finally was being promoted. I watched his book trailer and thought wow a post-apocalyptic story. My absolute favorite story line and the wait felt like forever.
Joe Hill gives us a great character in Harper Grayson, a teacher in Portsmouth New Hampshire. He also gave me a character that I can’t remember hating as much as Jakob, her husband. That was until I read a good bit of the story and he gave me Carol, a woman at Camp Wyndham. This is supposed to be a safe place for those infected but I wouldn’t define safe the way she does. After her father dies she is in charge and there couldn’t be a more despicable person alive. Now I had two characters I despised more than any I can remember. A new and scary contagion known as Dragonscale is starting to get out of hand. People are spontaneously combusting and no one has a handle on why this is happening or how it spreads. This is the beginning of the end or so it seems, but things are never that simple.
The Fireman is so different from what I’ve come to expect and love from Joe Hill. A few hundred pages in and I wasn’t sure how I felt about this book. It is written very well and is like nothing I’ve read from Joe Hill before. The Fireman takes us on a hell of a journey with some completely messed up characters. The story flows like a spilled cup of liquid, moving where it wanted and leaving me unable to see the direction of the flow. The characters will make you want to jump in the pages of the book and rip their heads off. The breakdown in society is heartbreaking and the cruelty is overwhelming. I wanted to see almost everyone get run through a wood chipper, but that would probably be too good for them. This is the kind of emotion Joe Hill makes you feel.
But Joe Hill give us a great heroine, Harper, to love and root for. She is a wonderfully created character and her pain is our pain while we watch her struggle to survive. Her only goal is to have her baby in this crazy upside down world and hope he/she is uninfected. Trial after trial left me wondering if she would ever have the chance to give birth and see her child. As the last hundred or so pages concluded the story I loved the pace and feel. The conclusion of the story doesn’t disappoint and level of crazy continues until the very last chapter. Joe Hill has done a hell of a job with his latest book and while it is nothing like his previous work it is a must read if you’re a fan of his work.
Length: 768 Pages
Publisher: William Morrow
Release date: May 17, 2016
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.