I have finished a monstrous audiobook. Twenty-two hours of Joe Hill’s The Fireman was a serious undertaking, but I knew I had to tackle it, because the synopsis just sounded too good for me to miss: “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 by Joe Hill
Published by William Morrow on May 17th 2016
Genres: Fiction, Horror, Thriller
Narrator: Kate Mulgrew
Length: 22 hours and 20 minutes
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.
a beautiful disease, cultish tendencies, and trust issues
What I liked:
- The infectious disease. I love, love, love infectious disease stuff. It’s scary, it’s plausible, and it’s as close to a real-life zombie apocalypse that we can get. Plus, this is some awesome fungal disease (aptly named “Dragon Scale”) that causes beautiful golden and black markings to scrawl across the infected’s body. AND it can cause them to spontaneously combust. That is awesome.
- The cast of characters. This is a very character-driven book, and most of the big plot twists have to do with characters being unpredictable (and usually evil). I loved the main character, Harper. She is such a real person and her response to the weird happenings around her is usually spot-on (warranting a lot of chuckles and “Go Harper!”s). Joe Hill does a great job making his characters ambiguous. Are they good? Are they bad? WHAT’S GOING ON!
- It’s so plot twisty! There are a ton of twist and turns in the book. You think you know what’s going on, but I promise you that you just stinking DON’T.
- The creep factor. People are just freaking out about this Dragon Scale. They’re all acting weird: forming cults, murdering the infected, killing themselves, etc. You are totally going to get the heebie-jeebies reading about what desperation and concern about the world ending will lead these people to do.
What I didn’t like so much:
- The length, guys. I’m just not sure it needed to be as long as it did. Did I enjoy everything that I read? Well, yeah, sure. But looking back, I’m just not convinced that it couldn’t have been a bit more tailored.
If the synopsis appeals to you, I’d recommend giving this book at try. It’s a fun and creepy read!
Have you read The Fireman yet? Did you know that Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son (that explains the freaking length of this book, amiright?)? I haven’t read anything else by Joe Hill, but I have heard great things about his other novels. Have you read any?