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by Joe Hill
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Damn, this was good. I'm not surprised, I've enjoyed the other books I've read by Joe Hill, but at the start I wasn't sold on the entire thing. Had I read nothing else by him I would've guessed this was a debut novel because a lot of the characters didn't feel fully fleshed out, but rather something someone somewhat inexperienced would write. They were not parodies, but they were stereotypes, with dialogue that was almost cringey at time.
But it must've gotten better because I didn't feel that way at all by the end. Though by that time, I'd spent enough time with the characters that I'd gotten to know them, so maybe that was it. Some of them were a bit stereotypical, but they are characters in a book, of course they are. Some real life people are too.
Anyway, the plot is good the entire way though and it is SO hard to put down, even though you're reading it with a pounding heart and anxiety levels set to max because it's one of those books where things keep getting worse and worse and worse. It's not a feelgood novel. And on that note, the ending is as expected and at first I was bit "oh, come ON" but given the title of the book it makes sense that it ends where it does. I'm not unhappy with it.
Maybe I misread it though but there's a part of it where it sounds like Irish sign language and American sign language is the same, and that's not the case at all so that research could've been better. I did like how the deafness was portrayed apart from that though, Nick doesn't have like a "superpower" due to it, but it's also not treated like some great tragedy where he can't take care of himself.
Another thing I thought was great was the pop-cultural references Harper used. We're the same age and Joe Hill is not, but they were SPOT ON. First I was like "why is she thinking about Harry Potter all the time?" but then I remembered Harper and I must've had the same pop-culture grwing up and I think of Harry Potter all the time, so yeah, that makes sense. I'm old enough to be the protagonist of a grown-up book now. Isn't that weird?
Started on audio but switched to ebook. Kate Mulgrew is cool, but I didnâ€™t love her portrayal of the male characters. And there are a lot of male characters.
Not my favorite Joe Hill book. The idea was interesting, and he did neat things with it, but the story didnâ€™t need to be told at such length, and it dragged in parts. And the baddies were pretty over-the-top.
I liked the references to childrenâ€™s literature and Harper mentally comparing people she met to characters in her favorite books. That element of her characterization, along with her love of Mary Poppins, was fun.
I didnâ€™t hate it, but I liked Heart-shaped Box moreâ€”ghosts are more up my alleyâ€”and his Locke and Key series most of all.
I just returned from the first part of my vacation. On this part of my vacation, I brought only one book with me and that was Joe Hill's The Fireman. This was the book that has been haunting me all summer. I purchased it when it released in May and it has been sitting on my shelf taunting me with its 700 pages, daring me to take the time to read it.
Last week, was the week I would finally do it. I started it on a Monday in Vermont, took it to Montreal for two more days, and finished it in NY on a Thursday. I am not sure how many hours it took, but I know I was jumping up and down for doing this feat. I normally have book ADD, so I am jumping between books like crazy, so sticking to one book was quite an achievement. So, how was it?
There has been a plague which has wiped out much of the human population. This plague called Dragonscale causes people to start to smoke and then eventually catch fire. The more people gathered together, the bigger the fire to the point of monuments disappearing.
Harper is a nurse who becomes pregnant with her husband Jakob's baby. Harper wakes up one day with Dragonscale. She has made a pact with Jakob that if she has it, she will kill herself. With a new baby, she changes her mind and runs from Jakob.
While in exile, she learns about a commune of people who have learned how to control the Dragonscale, so they do not catch on fire. One of their people, John, has learned how to control it so much that he can set parts of himself on fire without burning.
As things move forward, there is a group led by the Marlboro Man who is out to hunt and kill all those with the disease. There is also a division beginning in the commune that is loosely held together by their spiritual leader. When he falls under an attack and is injured, the commune starts to come apart at the seams. Can John step in as the rightful leader or is he too focused on his past? What about Harper as she learns about this commune and a member who left their community, what will she do as the group divides?
I have been describing this book to friends as a giant summer block buster movie in book form. It is a bit long, has a lot of background characters that don't get developed, has some parts that simply don't make sense (why shoot flaming arrows for fun while two groups are looking for you?), but is one of the summer block busters that are a lot of fun and well worth your time.
I think the only negative, besides the length, is that the main story of the commune is one that has been told many times- the rightful leader won't be leader because he is struggling, so a zealot takes over tearing the camp apart, but that also may be a good thing in that the story doesn't get in the way as the characters are developed.
This is a great adventure story and wound up being a lot of fun. There is a bunch of action and even though there are unbelievable moments, it isn't something out of the realm of a big action book. It is a mammoth though.
I gave this one 4 stars.
Harper Grayson was only trying to help others the day she became one of the infected. Now that she has the tell tale signs of contagion, her husband blames her and wants nothing to do with her. Scared and pregnant she has nobody to turn to. She considers trying to make it to her brother's house but does not want to put his family at risk. The cremation crews make it nearly impossible to leave home but when she is forced to run she meets up with a group of people who may be her salvation, or they may be too good to be true.
Joe Hill knows how to tell a story. On par with "The Stand" and my all time favorite "Swan Song" is my new favorite The Fireman. Fast paced and heart pounding action packed. It's the end of the world as we know it. A plague of epic proportions brings out the best in our unlikely heroes and the worst in others. This book is full of twists and turns that left me never knowing who to trust from one minute to the next and I loved every minute of it. 5 out of 5 stars from me.
I received an advance copy for review
Fiction. Horror. Literature. Thriller. HTML:
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes 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 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 bodiesâ??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 liveâ??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 Squadsâ??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 lifeâ??and that of her unborn childâ??goes up
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
People will no doubt compare it to his dad's books: The Stand and Fire-Starter, there are certainly elements of these books in the story along with Cormac McCarthy's The Road, and a good number of other apocalyptic books, but to do so is unfair. The Fireman is really about the behavior of people in good times and bad, the role religion and false religion as well as beliefs affect those touched by them. The book makes the reader question how would they react in a similar situation. The ending is not predictable, and those who survive through to the end may surprise the reader.
This was a very enjoyable book to read. ( )