ARC Review: The Fireman // Joe Hill (Adult)

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Title: The Fireman
Author: Joe Hill
Publisher: Orion    
Availability: Out 7th June 


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.


The Fireman is a dark, terrifying book, where the real horror is not the virus, or the deterioration of civilisation, but the people affected by it.

Hill's book is one of the only Apocalyptic thrillers I've read that feels real. The exploration of the nature of humanity, and what we do for survival, and the consequences of fear really struck hard, and left me pondering a lot more than your average run of the mill Zombie end-of-the-world slasher would.
The Fireman incorporates satisfying character development of a strong female protagonist with the unlikely heroes: the shaved head agnsty teen with a soft side, the deaf and mute boy with a huge heart, and the mysterious British man with a revelation that seems too good to be true. With the zooming in on multiple characters to really build an interesting cast, we really get to see the dynamics of the characters interacting.

Hill has such an incredible control over the tension with an explosive plotline, creating an intense, genuinely uncomfortable read with more expected turns an characters with more venom that I've ever come across before.

An interesting component was the huge importance of the virus inducing spore itself, Dragonscale, and the way in which the pathological symptoms felt believable, even in the context of science fiction. Forming such a complex deterioration of the world as we know it, along with a  comprehensible, fully fleshed out virus with characteristics that somehow, don't feel too out of this world. 

The relevance of the modern threats referenced (ISIS, extremism, nuclear warfare, etc.) added to the shock factor, as it felt like it could possibly, terrifyingly, could happen, meaning everything felt a lot more tense and dramatic.

Even though The Fireman is primarily an Apocalyptica, the human issues of corrupt power, personal strength, family, friendship and forgiveness added a level that enhanced my ability to feel invested in the story.

Forget The Walking Dead- a book where you actually care for the characters' survival, The Fireman is the next big thing in Dystopian Fiction.

5/5 Stars 

 Happy Reading xox

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