The Fireman by Joe Hill Published by: William Morrow Publication Date: May 17th 2016 Genre: Sci-Fiction Page Count: 752 pages Format: Hardcover (Library)
The Fireman by Joe Hill was more of a 3.75 star read, I’ve included the Goodreads synopsis below as it is lengthy & detailed. I chose not to read the synopsis & allowed myself very little to go on…a virus/spore that manifests itself on a person’s skin through gold/silver flecked spirals resembling tattoos. These marks respond to stress or anger through spontaneous combustion. The world has been divided in two, those that are infected and those who are NOT. The government’s response (or lack thereof) has been to form cremation squads that hunt groups of infected only to burn them to ashes. The logic being: eliminate them before they kill others when they go up in flames. We follow The Fireman and a group of people who more or less have found a way to control the “Dragonscale”
We get introduced to Harper, a nurse who loves Mary Poppins and often breaks out in a MP tune when treating her tiny humans in the hospital. Harper is married to Jakob, an aspiring author with a huge sense of self. At first glance their marriage seems like a good one, but quickly takes a nose dive when Jakob believes he has been infected by Harper. I don’t think I’ve ever disliked a fictional character quite as much as Jakob. There were many bits of dialogue between Jakob & Harper that made me cringe with disgust. From moments where he bashed women as a whole to times where he treated Harper as if she lacked the mental capacity to be on his level, I wanted him GONE! I did quite enjoy Harper’s character development. Harper is not the same at the end of this book than she was at the very beginning. The events that took place only served to make her stronger, resilient, a leader & the calm within the storm. I also loved that she never lost her optimism & continued to apply Marry Poppins spoon full of sugar remedies into every tough situation LOL!
The story tracks Harper’s movements once she meets up with the group of people who have managed to control their Dragonscale. Always being hunted & facing the very real possibility of cremation, there were times I found myself at the edge of my seat. While reading The Fireman, I also kept hoping that something like this is NEVER possible because the world would be a very ugly place when faced with fear of the unknown…hmm…now there’s food for thought…
The characters that Harper comes across later on in the story are some of my favorites starting with:
Nick- Possibly 11 0r 13 years of age, he is deaf-mute and has a super secret that makes him even more cool than humanly possible lol
Allie- Nick’s sister 17 years of age, bald by choice & overall badass. Allie leads a group of girls (all bald) who keep the peace
Renee- an older woman described as African-American with silver braids, Renee was the story teller & often times librarian.
Don Lewiston- I’m still trying to picture this man who says ‘Facckin’ every couple of words, in my head lol
The Fireman- Besides the fact that he’s British & seriously funny, I loved how protective he was over Nick & Allie. Also, he’s pretty badass & Allie’s idol…I mean who wouldn’t be impressed by a walking torch? eh?
This is a survival story filled with very interesting characters however, the pacing was slower than I would have preferred. Most of the action really took place during the last 200 out of 752 pages. If you’re not a fan of open ended finales, then this book isn’t for you. It does makes sense though, that in a post apocalyptic world we wouldn’t see the perfect happy ending. This being my 1st Joe Hill, I was entertained & invested in the story enough to want to finish this massive tome. I will probably read his more popular book NOS4A2 in the near future.
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.
About The Author:
Hill chose to use an abbreviated form of his given name (a reference to executed labor leader Joe Hill, for whom he was named) in 1997, out of a desire to succeed based solely on his own merits instead of as the son of Stephen King. After achieving a degree of independent success, Hill publicly confirmed his identity in 2007 after an article the previous year in Variety broke his cover (although online speculation about Hill’s family background had been appearing since 2005).