TITLE: THE FIREMAN
AUTHOR: JOE HILL
BLURB: Nobody knew where the virus came from.
FOX News said it had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980s.
MSNBC said sources indicated it might’ve been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelation.
CNN reported both sides.
While every TV station debated the cause, the world burnt.
Pregnant school nurse, HARPER GRAYSON, had seen lots of people burn on TV, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school.
With the epic scope of THE PASSAGE and the emotional impact of THE ROAD, this is one woman’s story of survival at the end of the world.
I like Joe Hill’s work and reviewed his debut novel too and this book is no exception to that emerging rule, but I’d have to question when the blurb compares the “epic scope” of The Fireman with The Passage. Thankfully though it also got it wrong when it drew a line between Hill’s novel and The Road – The Fireman is much more accessible and a lot less pretentious.
I can see why Fox bought the movie rights even before it was published, there’s enough depth to the story and the setting to allow for a very dramatic and special effect laden couple of hours in a darkened cinema. The characters are well drawn and the situation, while not especially new to sci-fi readers, has a decent enough twist to make it interesting to explore.
If I had any qualms at all with this really enjoyable read it would be the slight similarity to The Stand. This is not an unfair subconscious link to the author’s famous father, it’s brought on by the use of a couple of names in common with the genuinely epic King novel and a character that may as well have stepped out of one book and into the other with a description, attitude and even “voice” that completely overlaps ( I can’t elaborate without spoiling at least one aspect of the story).
The underlying issues of discrimination, societal breakdown, group think and the psychological impact of mass grief were all interesting aspects of the story too, but only after you’ve had a darn good adventure with the people of the spore.