The Fireman – Joe Hill

Jan 29

The Fireman – Joe Hill

Joe Hill offers his version of the dystopian novel with The Fireman. Harper is an elementary school nurse when the world starts to go up in flames, literally and figuratively. Folks are infected with Dragonscale. This fungus-based disease causes people to spontaneously combust. Questions of how the disease is transmitted and if there are treatments or coping mechanisms divide the nation. Certain members of society believe that all ‘scale carriers should be exterminated; others believe that there are ways to control the spontaneous factor.

Harper is a very well developed character; one minute she is singing like Mary Poppins, and on the next page she may be dropping an expletive and standing up to bullies. She befriends a “Fireman” who has learned to use the Dragonscale to his advantage. The Fireman leads Harper to a safe camp, where others who have this particular malady are joined together and are investigating its positive benefits. Of course, this all takes a dark turn when certain members of the group rise to power and decide they know what is best for all, despite having no real skills or leadership abilities. Timely, indeed. The book is filled with quick insights (one character is, “someone who liked being a mother because it gave her a child and a husband to bully.”) Ugh, we all know someone with that particular trait.

I enjoyed the plethora of song references and the rare glimpses of humor. When discussing the “truth” in a story, one character says part of the tale is true, and the, “rest of it is a crap sandwich and I can’t believe any of you are going to eat it.”

Parts of the story could have been edited, I felt like it was about 200 pages too long. Mr. Hill comes by his talent honestly (the book took four years to write) and genetically (he is the spawn of Stephen King.) Rumor has it that Fox is making this one into a film, it should be lit. As the kids say.


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