Published by William Morrow on May 17th 2016
Genres: horror, Dystopian
Source: Free for Review
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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 itÂ’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 sheÂ’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 JakobÂ’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 isnÂ’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighterÂ’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 FiremanÂ’s secrets before her lifeÂ—and that of her unborn childÂ—goes up in smoke.
Locke and Key introduced me to Joe Hill. I’m sorry to admit that I didn’t expect much. The depth and beauty of the story surprised me. Locke and Key is a graphic novel series that touches on deep concepts and weaves horror into a larger story with purpose. Then I read N0S4A2. Not a graphic novel but a traditional horror tale that scared my socks off.Â With N0S4A2, I realized thatÂ I was a Joe Hill fan. Next, Horns and Heart Shaped Box came in at the library. While neither of those resonated with me in the same way, I still enjoyed them. Joe Hill was an author to watch in my mind.Â AfterÂ reading The Fireman,Â I won’t miss another book by Joe Hill.
The Fireman is the perfect combination of my favorite genres. It’s 33% dystopian, 33% horror and 34% awesome. I was trying to describe this book to people after I read it. The best I could come up with is if The Stand and When She Woke were together, The Fireman is the love child of that union. A deadly and unexplainable disease, a weird and corrupt religious system, a mad and uncontrollable mob mentality and woman doing her best for her unborn child makes this analogy complete and my love for The Fireman unending.
I love fiction that reflects the current political and cultural climate. Whether it’s making a statement that I agree with or not, I love books that make me think. While The Fireman is set squarely in a fictional world, I loved the obvious parallels to issues that are affecting our world today. It is scary. It is horror. However, the scariest part for me was how I could see it really happening. If there ever was a terrible plague (maybe not of the self combustion variety) I could definitely see people reacting the way they do in this book. That in itself is horrifying to me.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough.