The Fireman

The Fireman

A Novel

Book - 2016
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Comments (24)


m
mexicanadiense
May 23, 2017

It's Present Day-ish and there's a mysterious disease that causes people to SPONTANEOUSLY COMBUST!

I like Joe Hill's style, and interestingly enough this was the first proper novel of his I have read after already consuming his truly excellent graphic novel series Locke & Key and the mostly-OK supernatural horror film Horns adapted from his novel of the same name.

That being said, I felt this book was, more than his previous material, truly Stephen King for Millennials. It's an obvious comparison, of course, given that Hill is indeed Mr. King's son but at least it's a flattering one. For me the sustained tension, the sense of dread and danger, the unexpectedly loquacious convicts, the so-should-have-seen-it-coming-but-somehow-didn't heal-turn of a character you had come to see as sympathetic, as well as the seemingly unkillable antagonist...Well, you get the idea.

I liked having a young Nurse as the protagonist, it must be said, and it was great that Harper's defining characteristic was calm under fire. No squealing and running up the stairs when she should be running out the door from this girl. The Mary Poppins obsession maybe was a bit much, but I guess every Millennial POV character needs their "thing".

Lastly, I like how Hill has the intellectual honesty to directly address and pay tribute to the material that clearly inspired him, everything from the Night of the Living Dead to
The Road to The Twilight Zone and beyond gets directly name checked. So good on him.

On the whole, if you're looking for a beach read or something to ease some Walking Dead jones-ing this book is for you.

b
bayougal
Apr 20, 2017

Can't believe I'm thinking this, let alone saying it, but I think Joe may be just as good, if not sometimes better than his father!

I enjoyed the first book of his I read (Heart Shaped Box) and also read Nos4A2, and am currently reading the Fireman. He has a gift for establishing characters and making you feel in the moment. And, I must say, he writes horror VERY well.

Kudos to you Mr. Hill; may your career be as long and successful as your dad's!

t
taylorwoods
Feb 17, 2017

I am overall glad that I picked up The Fireman, however I enjoyed NOS4A2 much more. Which sucks because I hate to compare books- but it was a tad inescapable for me at the moment.

I would put this one among the post-apocalyptic, science-fiction books with a tinge of horror. The kind of horror that just sizzles and pops throughout that makes you jump away from the burner- but only for a second. Joe Hill inserted a lot of social commentary on contemporary issues- refugees, for one. What stood out for me was the inevitable result that comes from naive, scared, and powerless people in large groups with one over-ruling leader.

Would I recommend this to my sci-fi and apocalyptic readers? Yes. Horror fans? Maybe.

l
lpreston214
Feb 13, 2017

I'm not sure I see this as horror per se. To me horror means monsters and the supernatural. Hill's Heart-shaped box fits the genre but I'm not sure about this one.

This is about a very real scenario where a fungus running rampant in the US can cause spontaneous combustion in the host. As the infection spreads, fear spreads also. There's an all-out war to simply eliminate all who are carriers. Especially in this era when fear of your neighbors seems de rigueur it's chilling. School nurse Harper joins up with some people who seem to have found a way to survive in harmony with the fungus. Unfortunately, sometimes this can mean discordant harmony. Harper finds herself in danger and flees in the company of a few like-minded carriers.

Reading Joe Hill is much like reading Stephen King. A book like Under the dome could easily have been written by Hill. For me the books are good but I could do with a little less violence and/or a little less graphic violence.

m
MissMRose
Jan 06, 2017

This is one of the best horror books I've read in a while. The characters were vivid and realistic. The descriptions were detailed and drew me into the story. It was nerve-racking in the best way, filling me with hope, dread, excitement, and trepidation all at once. Make sure, once you finish the story, you read the acknowledgements. He hid a little more story in the last paragraph or so.

AL_APRIL Nov 21, 2016

Although this book was well-written and the plot was interesting it could have been about 100 pages shorter. The story was fascinating and I wanted to see where it would lead but there were times when I found myself bored and anticipating some sort of action. Some of the Mary Poppins references also got old after the millionth time. It was a solid read but it could have been much better if it had been shorter and some of the scenes had been edited out.

AL_LESLEY Nov 09, 2016

This book was very beautifully written, very lyrical with an easy rhythm and I didn't mind the length at all. The characters are vivid, especially the ones you hate! And that's what I liked most of all, that this book caused a reaction in me... at some points I even gasped with despair or anticipation, which was an added treat to a very interesting and entertaining premise.

p
PearlyBaker
Oct 23, 2016

Like his father Stephen King, Joe too writes a haunting, beautiful, and quite verbose apocalyptic love story with vivid, memorable characters. Unfortunately now I need to add yet another to my growing list of authors whose full catalog I have to read. Thankfully the debates are over and now the only thing I have to watch on TV in the next year is the celebration on November 8 and the inauguration of our first female President on January 20, 2017!

j
JEM_LPL
Oct 01, 2016

What’s scarier than a flu that can kill you? A flu that can burn you alive from the inside out as it kills you. Since “Everybody caught a fatal flu and died” would be a pretty short book, Joe Hill’s new doorstopper, “The Fireman”, is about a lot more than that. Of course, there are lots of shout outs to his father’s famous “Fatal Flu” book, “The Stand”. (I won’t say any more than that, though if I was a fat guy named Harold or Cross, I would be feeling Cross indeed). But Hill’s work stands alone in its theme; what would you do if you had a disease that rendered you a danger not only to yourself, but to everyone around you?
“The Fireman” contains some of the most brutal horror this side of “Lord Of The Flies” that I’ve ever seen, the kind only desperately frightened people can produce. Yet there are many scenes of kindness and bravery too, and I do like the idea of a “safe island” run by ex-VJ Martha Quinn. There’s some lovely imagery, particularly the descriptions of the Dragonscale, the golden markings that signal the infection. I’m still haunted by the dream of the glowing church members singing Mary Poppins’ “Chim Chim Cheree” (though personally, I would probably be singing Elle Goulding’s “Burn”. Does that make me a bad, bad person?) Now that the weather is turning cooler, why not warm up some tea and crack open the “The Fireman”?

Not my favorite Joe Hill. I really had to keep at it to get to the end and by then I was skimming. Although the concept was fascinating, I wish this book had been half as long and a little faster-paced. I would recommend Heart Shaped Box over this one.

I found this story to be intensely readable; the story is compelling, the characters are interesting, and I wasn't always sure what was going to happen next. Hill weaves together these elements, along with the plague that is constantly lurking in the background. There is no cure for Dragonscale, but can it truly be mastered? There's horror in this story, to be sure, but there's also a lot of bravery, and moments where characters find strength within themselves to stand up for what they feel is right. I liked that Hill made this plague sound realistic, and how it spreads and the disastrous effects that it has. The pace is steady, but unrelenting, and you never quite feel like the main characters are completely safe. Like real life, though, it's also not always completely awful; there are moments of wry humor.

athompson10 Sep 01, 2016

I started out not liking the premise behind the book: take your father's apocalyptic novel "The Stand", poach several elements (a plague, a community of survivors, a supernatural element, the names and biographies of key "Stand" characters) but still make it your own. Some of the book was way overwritten and needed editing - just like "The Stand" - but the suspense was good and it gradually sucked me in. I thought it was much more compelling and better-written than Hill's" Nos4atu", "Horns" and "Heart-Shaped Box".

samcmar Aug 23, 2016

I wanted to love this book so much more than I did. I loved the idea of the concept, I am a sucker for novels that feature cultists, but I found everything about this novel all over the place. I wasn't invested in the characters, and while there were parts that were absolutely hilarious, I still didn't feel like I got a larger sense of why I should care about this epidemic.

Boo to not loving this book. Usually Joe Hill rocks my socks, but this one didn't work for me.

MsJoann Jul 26, 2016

This is the first Joe Hill book I've read and I am now a die-hard fan. The Fireman didn't slow down once. One of the best books I've read this year.

j
jimg2000
Jul 24, 2016

Wonderful writing choke full of humor by the "Horns 2013" author, son of horror-thriller master Stephen King. 5 star for the Carl-Hiaasen-good humor and 3 star for the multi-faceted open-ended sci-fi with bits of Contagion 2011, Pyro the mutant, dystopian-holocaust, Rosemay Baby 1968 and Branch Davidians (or Peoples Temple.) Enjoyable read overall though a bit sluggish in the final third of the book.

spl_merley Jul 17, 2016

Joe Hill’s epic story of global catastrophe sets cruelty against compassion in a fight for survival in The Fireman. Imagine a bit of the optimism of Mary Poppins’and a dose of dark humour matched with the social and political fallout of a plague that leads to spontaneous combustion and you will get a sense of Hill’s story. Die hard horror fans will be reminded of such classics as Stephen King’s The Stand.

w
winecoff8902
Jul 16, 2016

Weird book but the story did keep you going

j
JILLYJELLY
Jul 16, 2016

Loved this book...not a great literary masterpiece, just a good, fun read. Highly recommend!

Cynthia_N Jul 11, 2016

There is a global epidemic which causes spontaneous human combustion. The first signs of infection are black and gold markings on the skin. Victims are kept away from society until they burn. They start forming their own societies and hiding from the authorities while doing so they find ways to suppress the burning. Martha Quinn on of the original VJs plays a hero to the infected!

ehbooklover Jun 28, 2016

An edge-of-your-seat dystopian novel/thriller/romance book that somehow manages to be both disturbing and humourous (I laughed out loud. A lot). Short chapters kept me reading "just one more" and I really liked the characters.

FSJPL_Morgan Jun 27, 2016

The best apocalypses come creeping in by degrees! A pandemic that causes human combustion is sweeping through humanity...not everyone is content to just let it happen.

s
slang123
Jun 16, 2016

The apocalyptic tale is all so horribly believable. How people can go into mob rule. The Stanford prisoner/guard experiment. Stockholm Syndrome. Lord of the Flies.

The writing and plotting are both so good that I am torn between wanting to slowly savor the words (see some quotes, below) and rushing to discover what happens next.

JennaZeeLibrarian Jun 09, 2016

Excellent apocalypse tale about a world (literally) going up in flames, a pregnant woman trying to survive in order to carry her baby to term and an enigmatic man in a fireman's outfit who may be able to help her do so. 'The Fireman' joins a lineup of other fabulous literary books about humanity and the ability to survive horrors. If you enjoyed 'The Passage' by Justin Cronin or 'Station Eleven' by Emily St. John Mandel, PLEASE pick up this book.

KateHillier Jun 04, 2016

There is a part of me that wants to mark this down a star for a certain reason that I won't spoil and the length (some bits could be shortened) but I can't do it. It was a fabulous read that reads fast and I was always thinking about it. This is Joe Hill doing his version of "The Stand" and it is very different as much as it has some similarities.

The world as we know it is ending and it's because of a virus known as Dragonscale, which culminates in death via combustion in its victims. Mary Poppins idolizing school nurse Harper catches and discovers she's pregnant. She decides to carry the baby to term instead of offing herself with her husband. Her husband, Jakob, does not take this new well at all.

This novel may be called the Fireman but this book is about Harper. It's about her taking her survival into her own hands, taking help when needed, and standing up and continuing to be a decent, sane woman even in the face of a large amount of insanity. There were parts of this that definitely made my chest tight.

It's an apocalypse story, yes, and there are many of those around by now but this grips you because of the human element and the horrifying plausibility of of the human actions taken.


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