The Fireman – Book Review
Writer – Joe Hill
The award winning author of NOS4A2 and heart-shaped box Joe Hill wrote last year’s best book ‘The Fireman’. The comic book community will now of Joe’s work on the Locke and Key comic series. The Fireman is fourth novel today and a great read.
Set in a world where a plague, has spread around the globe and infected billions. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it goes by dragonscale, a highly contagious spore that embellishes it’s hosts with beautiful black and gold markings- before causing them to burst into flame. There is no cure for dragonscale and no one is safe.
The story follows Harper Grayson, a compassionate and dedicated nurse, who envisions herself as Mary Poppins. She treated thousands of infected including a little boy called Nick. That all changed one night when she discovered, gold-flecks on her skin.
Before the world ended Harper and her husband Jakob made a pact that if they got infected they would end their suffering themselves however Harper wants to live and to make matters worse she’s pregnant.
How Harper must try and survive long enough to give birth to her healthy and dragonscale free child.
The plot of this book is pretty simple however Joe does just tell one story but a network of subplots to build an entire world in just one book. The amount of subplots in this book is like play Skyrim and like Skyrim the subplots connect with the main narrative and build a world for these stories to inhabit.
Joe has no shortage on the twists and turns he puts out in this book. He does an amazing job at dropping hints all along this book about what’s going to happen next, while also leaving the reader utterly surprised about other events.
The ending of this book is beautifully constructed. All the pieces he puts in place all come together to produce an ending that leaves you perfectly satisfied as no other ending would work as well or at all.
Hill has created so truly interesting characters. The way they seem two dimensional however, Hill peals layers’ back showing characters develop slowly or swiftly. The one thing Joe didn’t do was write a dull character.
Harper Greyson is the books protagonist, who starts the book caring and compassionate, she also finishes the book being caring and compassionate. This isn’t bad writing as Harper’s compassion is tested to it’s limits. Other parts of Harper developed and changed and that is what’s great about joe’s characters by the end of the book you feel like you know the true side of Harper and the other characters.
The fireman has the biggest emotional development. As Joe gives us reasons to like him in a slow and moving way. The fireman first comes off as arrogant but slowly joe reveals the man underneath the uniform and we realise the fireman is more complex that you realise.
Jakob is a brilliant character for his personal journey. Joe Hill does an amazing job at building Jakob’s character arch. That it still comes as a shock to what he becomes after how he was introduced. Jakob was a character that may of not worked but Hill stuck to his guns and never toned down Jakob’s personality.
Joe Hill successfully gave each character their own personality, that feed into the story, give every character a purpose.
Working in the comic industry Joe knows how to write visuals. That’s exactly what he does here. This entire book can be visualised with scenes that would look amazing if brought to life in a film.
The Fireman is a beautifully crafted story, that is a surprisingly quick read for a book with 700+ pages. Joe Hill has created a world that is closer to reality than fiction & that’s some powerful writing.