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. (goodreads.com)
Well, the blurb is a great indicator of what the book’s like: something that goes on forever. Ugh. I stopped caring about the story probably around the 350 to 400 page mark. There are 750 pages, by the way. I accepted this book for review because I liked NOS4A2 and the premise sounded really good. Something kind of different.
I wanted to stop reading THE FIREMAN for the same reason I stopped watching The Walking Dead: I just couldn’t take the meandering nothing of people trying to make their way through a dead world anymore. At least THE FIREMAN wasn’t plagued by awful decision-making like TWD was. I hear it’s still a great show, but I just got bored with it. Like I got really bored with THE FIREMAN.
And not sure why it’s called that because the character of the same name is really a secondary character for about 3/4 of the book. He really only comes into play toward the very end and even then he’s literally dragged along because he’s so injured and useless.
I mean it was interesting watching the camp develop (or devolve, as it were) and how the whole vibe of the place can change and how quickly. But it got old. Reading a never-ending book of people just existing got really old. Once the plot shifted to the camp it stayed there for most of the story so it was just people going about their daily lives. Any kind of action or plot development came in violent, short-lived chunks that didn’t do enough to sustain me while reading. I’m just wondering how much of what I read could actually be cut and we’d still end up with the same story. I’m guessing at least 300 pages of it.
It felt like a story that Hill wanted to get out of his head in order to make room for better work. The book felt aimless, obviously incredibly drawn out, and went roughly nowhere with plot. There’s very little light at the end of the tunnel and the ending just pissed me off. All that reading, all that investment, for basically nothing.
I did like the characters. For all I didn’t like about the book the characters were at least engaging enough and every single one of them had growth from one end of the book to the other. All of them owned their little corner of this world and I felt each character was vivid and realistic and popped right off the page. That’s about all I liked here.
I’ll definitely think twice about picking up another Joe Hill book because he’s one and one right now. Starting to get a little leery.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.