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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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I was very reluctant to buy the book knowing that the author is the son of one of my favorite authors, I suspected that it would ride on coattails too a status higher than it deserved. I am happy to say that my suspicions were off-target. I highly recommend this book to fans of Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and the like. I'm now going to look at other Joe Hill books to see if they live up to the benchmark set by "The Fireman"
Draco Incendia Trychophyton, aka, Dragonscale, or the 'Scale. It's kind of like a superbug that everyone catches because it's highly contagious and it's discovered by interesting black and gold markings on one's skin, causing those who are afflicted to burst into flames. It's caused by a spore that floats through the air via ash, and once everyone catches it, they spontaneously combust into flames, The premise is totally wicked. And scary as hell.
The Fireman, is in my opinion the most sophisticated novel Joe Hill has written to date.
The main characters are extremely well developed and well written: Nurse Harper Willowes is a fierce, strong willed, standout heroine. Allie is one heck of an incredibly tough teen who doesn't take any sh&t from anyone. The Fireman, John Rookwood's, ability to control the fire burning from within is truly amazing but all of his human flaws, that is what makes him a man. And Nick - the little boy who lost his mom and shut down against almost everyone - and then in the face of the gravest danger, does what he has to do to take care of the only family he has left. That's powerful stuff! And then there's Jakob, Nurse Willowes, husband. He's becomes obsessed; with trying not to contract Dragonscale, and trying to murder his wife because she is a carrier of the disease and is also pregnant.
In my opinion, this novel flows in a way that none of his other books have yet to achieve.
And even with that, I can't say that this is my favorite Joe Hill novel, though I liked it a lot. I gave it 5 stars for his writing style being much improved and for the truly interesting idea of a spore that is highly contagious causing people who come into contact with it, to incinerate. It's ingenious and the characters in the storyline are pretty interesting too. Harper, John, Renae, Allie, Nick, Father Storey, Jakob: These people: They are this story. And it is well worth the read!
For me, Joe Hill's NOS4A2, was my favorite book of the last few years, no question. Vic Jones was the best heroine ever. Every part of that book was a wild ride. But not every part was smooth and beautifully well written. NOS4A2 was a bumpy ride. And it was a ride you didn't want to get off. With five stars for the amazing characters, crazy heart stopping moments and lots of tears.
I LOVED THIS BOOK! I was lucky enough to get an Advanced Reading Copy of it but I have already pre-ordered a hardcover for my library. I actually might order two - one to keep in pristine condition on my library shelf and another that I already plan on re-reading over and over. And that, in itself, is rare. I read so many books that hardly ever do I re-read one.
My favorite genre of books is horror and even more appealing to me is the sub-genre of post-apocalyptic/dystopian books. So I knew I was probably going to like this tale.
Plus I've read Joe Hill's other books (except for his graphic novels) and I enjoyed them.
But this is a post-apocalyptic book that I loved as much as ANY I've ever read. And Joe Hill has taken a giant leap forward with his writing prowess.
- I loved the characters. Harper, the nurse who models herself off of Mary Poppins, and John, the Fireman, are my favorites but author Hill brings the whole incredible cast of characters to life on these pages - from the innocent to the maniacal. The most important "character" is Draco incendia trychophyton, or Dragonscale - wildly imaginative and deadly.
- Most of the story takes place in New Hampshire and I could visualize the settings clearly.
- The storyline - I'm not going into any detail on the story. Everyone that reads or listens to this book should experience it firsthand with no spoilers. Set aside a weekend or longer if you need it and immerse yourself in this world that Joe Hill has created.
This book has made it into my top 10 books of all time. So, if you couldn't tell, again - I LOVED THIS BOOK. I can't think of anything I didn't love about it.
Thank you to William Morrow Books through Edelweiss for sending me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.