Posted: May 12, 2016
Joe Hill is back with a new book; The Fireman. At first it looks like we’ll have an end-of-the-world book ahead of us but the more I read the more I see that the book is more about the characters than the end-of-the-world. And it’s interesting to see that the Fireman isn’t really the main character in the story. And on top of that he is a pretty unlikable character…that you end up liking anyway…
It starts with people getting infected with something called Dragonscale. This makes the infected catch fire when they get upset and who wouldn’t be upset if you know getting upset would result in you burning to death? Correct. A lot of people do. Our main character Harper Grayson, later Willowes, is a school nurse when we meet her but when the Dragonscale spreads she helps out at a hospital. When that burns down and her husband wants them to die together she runs and ends up at Camp Wyndham and that is where she meets The Fireman.
The Fireman, whose real name is John Rookwood, has learned how to control the Dragonscale and can now use it to his advantage. In fact the entire camp, led by Father Storye, has learned how to handle the infection. The big problem is the Cremation Crew who search for the infected for the sole purpose to wipe them of the face of the earth.
I think Hill has succeeded in creating a group of characters that you really care about. The Fireman you both like and dislike but you do root for them to succeed. The book is also so much more than just an end-of-the-world story as I mentioned. It’s more about the people we follow through the end-of-the-world than the ending itself. Hill is really good at creating characters that you care about. Both good and bad.
Hill has also hidden some winks to his father’s books. I found a few myself (one might be a bit farfetched). Did you see them? They are pretty obvious if you have read Stephen King’s books but it’s fun to find them here.
Lilja's final words about The Fireman
Joe Hill is an excellent writer and I just love his books and The Fireman is no exception. Is it one of his best? Well, both NOS4A2 and Horns are hard to beat so let me get back to you on that once The Fireman has sunken in a bit but I wouldn’t be surprised if the answer is yes.