“Joe Hill really could set the world on fire with this book: cleverly imagined and a compulsive read.”

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

Back in October, the local Waterstones announced that Joe Hill would be visiting on a tour for his new book, The Fireman. Now although I’ve only read Horns, I’d still say he’s one of my favourite authors, and I jumped at the chance to go. There, he explained his ideas behind the novel, read us an excerpt that I now recognise, and signed both my copy of Horns and an excerpt of The Fireman (with doodles all over them). Since October, I have been curious about this story, and I have waited for it to be released. When I got the chance to receive a review copy, how could I say no?

The Fireman is long. Great, and a favourite of mine for sure, but it is a very long read, over 700 pages, so before you start you’ve got to realise you’re making a bit of a commitment. In a book that long, of course there were slow parts – some at the beginning, some at the middle, and some even at the end – but that doesn’t detract from the ingenuity of the plot or the world-building in general. The book revolves around the idea of a spore, a contagious spore that once caught, causes humans to spontaneously combust. For the sake of not spooling anything, I’ll leave it vague, but even through the vagueness, you can tell it’ll be interesting. For the past few years, the media has had an obsession with zombies – this is the same principle, except with an interesting twist. We’re obsessed with our own demise, and I think Hill created a fantastical, but not too unbelievable, tale.

I think what made me give this a full five stars is definitely the characters. People don’t always grasp how characterisation can take a book from, say, a two-star to a four-star rating – or vice versa. Hill created dozens of characters, so many that you lose count – but somehow, each of them has their own individual personality, and each had their share in the limelight, even if it was just for a chapter. And the main characters? I feel like I’m part of their group, their family – especially Harper and Nick. I think Harper may be a character that readers could potentially find annoying – she is inherently good, lawful good, and sometimes readers want protagonists with a bit of spark – a bit of rebellion and anger! However, I think for this novel, Harper was perfect. Yes, she’s good, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t have views, morals, or her own mind – and it sure as heck doesn’t mean she won’t swear the house down. She was the perfect combination of everything, and I honestly think she’s one of my favourite protagonists. Nick comes as a close second – who couldn’t love him?

Overall, I’d say this book is definitely worth a read, but only if you are into the science-fiction/horror/thriller genres. If you’re not, then it may not capture your imagination. But then again, why else would you go looking for a Joe Hill book if you didn’t love all those things?

 

Reviewed by:

Nina Higson-Sweeney

Added 7th June 2016

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