- Hardcover: 768 pages
- Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (May 17, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062200631
- ISBN-13: 978-0062200631
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.8 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,499 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #67,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Fireman: A Novel Hardcover – May 17, 2016
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An Amazon Best Book of May 2016: I admit, when I hit a saggy part in a story, I do skip ahead to see if the plot will pick up again. At no point in Joe Hill’s doorstop-weight novel did I have that urge, for each and every page had me entranced. Set in New Hampshire right about now, The Fireman opens with a man spontaneously combusting outside the office of school nurse Harper Grayson. He’s not the first victim of Draco incendia trychophyton, the spore responsible for this transformation, but he’s the signal that Dragonscale has spread to Harper’s small town. It also spreads to Harper soon after she realizes she’s pregnant. Highly contagious and 100 percent fatal, Dragonscale soon plunges the world into chaos. (An oddly affective moment is when Harper logs onto Google and finds, instead of the search engine, the words “Goodby.”) But Hill smartly focuses on Harper and her attempts at survival, keeping the stakes small but extremely personal as the uninfected hunt down and murder the infected, supposedly to protect the rest of the town but really to indulge in sociopathic tendencies now unleashed. The Fireman starts with a hot burn, simmers as Harper joins a group of infected hiding in a summer camp, and then heats up again as the near-utopian community ruptures. Hill weaves questions about the power of leadership, group-think, love, catastrophe, and family into the plot. His smartest move is to give no clear-cut answers to these questions, making The Fireman more substantial and real than a typical apocalyptic thriller. And his humdinger of an ending provides just the right closure. --Adrian Liang
From Publishers Weekly
In Hill's superb supernatural thriller, the world is falling apart in a maelstrom of flame and fury. A spore dubbed Dragonscale infects people, draws patterns on their skin, and eventually makes them spontaneously combustâand it's rapidly spreading. School nurse Harper Grayson volunteers at a local hospital in Concord, N.H., until it burns down. Soon she discovers that not only is she infected but she's also pregnant. As the beautiful filigreed markings of Dragonscale start to flourish on her body, she vows to do anything to bring her baby safely into the world. Her husband, Jakob, doesn't want the baby and attacks Harper when he realizes she wants to keep it. Harper flees and encounters John Rookwood, a near-mythical figure known as the Fireman. He takes her to Camp Wyndham, where the infected have learned to control and harness what they call the Brightâthe flames that smolder just beneath their skin. Harper finds purpose there, but Jakob has found a purpose too: he's joined the Cremation Crews, brutal marauders who kill the infected on sight. When the peace of the camp is threatened, Harper, John, and their friends band together. The good-hearted Harper is a captivating heroine, the peaceful eye in a storm of evil that threatens to harm everyone she holds dear, and it's impossible not to root for her. Hill has followed 2013's NOS4A2 with a tremendous, heartrending epic of bravery and love set in a fully realized and terrifying apocalyptic world, where hope lies in the simplest of gestures and the fullest of hearts. (May)\n
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Top customer reviews
At 750 pages, The Fireman is a big book. Unfortunately, about 400 of those pages are spent slowly revealing that the camp is not as safe as it seems (something fairly obvious to the reader the moment our protagonist is welcomed into "The Bright.")
There are some interesting ideas and scenes here - for example, the "Cremation Crews" made up of uninfected men are scouring the blasted landscape looking to exterminate anyone infected with dragonscale, a deliciously tense ambulance heist sequence, and a wickedly dark reveal at the end of the novel - but unfortunately, just not enough seems to happen to justify this novel's length (a criticism ironically often lobbed at King's work). And the characters don't seem to grow and evolve as much as have backstory monologues at the appropriate times in the narrative.
Joe Hill is an awesome writer (his novel NOS4A2 is a seriously great and inventive horror novel), but The Fireman commits the cardinal sin of apocalyptic plague novels - it gets boring.
I don't like reviews that give too much of the book away, so I'll try to keep it brief.
It has an interesting idea at its core but I really felt it was poorly executed:
- the book could have been much shorter.. it could have been a far better read if it had been tightened up;
- some of the dialogue was cringe-worthy.. people just don't speak like that;
- the characters were very one dimensional;
- there were a number of occasions where the continuity didn't hold and the author had to backtrack to cover off something that had not been established earlier.
Hill said the book was written over 4 years and I think this shows. The style, to, me seems to change from time to time and the way the characters talk to each other seems to chop and change.
All in all I'd say it felt like a bit of a mess.
Honestly, the worst thing I can say about this book is that it was boring, and in the end, I didn't really care who lived or died. I had no emotional attachment to any of the characters. I can't help but feel like this book could have benefited mightily from a better editor who could trim it down from 600-plus pages to 300.
The book opens with a breath taking seen. A man burns to death. Harper, a school nurse, doesn’t understand what is going on at first. Later, we discover that a strange disease is invading the country. A disease that threatens the mankind. Once people get infected they can burn to death anywhere and at any time. A ‘dragon scale’ starts to show on their skin. This is the sign of the disease. And it’s like a death sentence that can be executed any time. From this point forward, people become enemies. Actually, I won’t spoil the story line as this is a book you have to read yourself.
This book is so powerful and in more than one dimension. As I said, people who might had once been lovers, families or friends are now enemies. We realize two parties, the healthy and the infected. And though the healthy are so liable to becoming infected at any time, they fight against the infected as though they are themselves the disease. It feels to me like their hatred and fear of the disease had materialized into this hatred towards their own people who happened to get infected before them. From my point of view, this was a very thought provoking concept. Just imagine in our real life how people can turn against each other for such reason.
Another thought provoking concept was what I think of as “the group behavior”. People in charge used both, the fear and the tendency to group behavior, to lead people in this book as if they were leading a herd. They initiated the thoughts and concepts that served them best and built a major belief in the group mind of their people that this was the salvation. We witness how this behavior is initiated then how it grows till it becomes a well-established way of thinking and those who dared defy it would face the worst they could imagine.
Needless to say, the writing style was amazing. Joe Hill is a very talented writer. His use of words and style of storytelling is more than amazing. But of course, it takes a very good writer to write a book that can be that long and still that amazing.
This is a very compelling book. It’s one of the books that I will dwell on for a long time.