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The Fireman – Joe Hill [Review] science fiction

THE FIREMAN is a standalone novel by Joe Hill.

The Fireman – Joe Hill [Review] science fictionAuthor: Joe Hill
Title: The Fireman
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 768
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Genres: Science Fiction

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.
Format: Paperback
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*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.*

  • Point of View: third person
  • Tense: past
  • Setting: Maine
  • Pet Peeves: none

Jennifer’s Review of THE FIREMAN

note: I received a DRC of this book through Edelweiss, but I ended up reading the physical book from my public library, because of problems with my tablet (since then, I have installed Kindle on my laptop).

Brief Summary of the Plot

Harper is a nurse who treats people infected with a spore called Dragonscale, which makes people self-ignite. Despite precautions, Harper becomes infected. And, she finds out she is pregnant. Her husband goes crazy, because he thinks he is also infected. He blames Harper.

There is a man called The Fireman whose path keeps crossing with Harper’s. He helps her find refuge at a camp. The people there are able to prevent burning if they sing together. They have turned it into a type of religion. Harper just wants a safe place to have her baby. So, she stays at the camp and joins in on their activities. But, Harper never really fits in. After their leader is injured, things go from bad to worse at the camp. Harper has to decide whether to stay.

(I tried to be somewhat vague because I don’t want to give away too much!)

My Thoughts about…

  • Characters

All of the characters are very well-developed in THE FIREMAN.

Harper is somewhat naive and too goody-two-shoes, but she has a little bit of personal growth along the way, which makes her more likable and interesting.

John, The Fireman, has a good backstory and personal issues. I liked that he was really just a man, despite being able to do extraordinary things. He got hurt like anyone else.

Almost every character in the story felt unique. It seemed to me that Hill spent time on each person, making them a real individual with quirks and backstory. The only ones that blended into the background were the children in the camp, but that is okay because they don’t play a major part in the story.

  • Pacing

THE FIREMAN is a long book, which is a bit intimidating to someone like me. I expected it to get boring or have a lot of filler. That wasn’t the case. I was surprised at how quickly the pages flew by. THE FIREMAN was a hard book to put down.

  • Suspense & Mystery

Joe Hill did an excellent job of keeping me in suspense. I kept turning pages because I wanted to find out what was going to happen. Also, there is a mystery brought into THE FIREMAN about who attacked the leader of the camp. This included a nice surprise that I didn’t expect.

  • Worldbuilding & Setting Details

I was able to visualize every location clearly in my mind. The author gave me enough details to picture the setting, without going on and on like some authors do.

Additionally, he did a great job of working in the history of the outbreak without slowing the pace of the story.

  • Prose

THE FIREMAN was very well-written. When I read how long he spent working on this book, I thought how that effort was obvious.  I really like Joe Hill’s writing style.

  • Plotting & Consistency

I’m not sure if THE FIREMAN needed to be as long as it was; there may have been some unnecessary scenes, but overall it made sense.

There were times when I felt the plot was forced or contrived. For example, Harper just happened to get an item and happened to use it at the right time, when using it didn’t seem rational, even to her.

The medical aspect of the story was ridiculous at times. Healing was miraculous and rushed. I understand that Hill bent the truth on some of the procedures, which is fine with me. I just didn’t like how he expected me to believe that someone, for example, could take two days of antibiotics and be suddenly cured of pneumonia. If that could happen, I need to keep a cabinet full of those antibiotics!

Also, characters seemed to know things they weren’t supposed to know. In particular, I didn’t like how Harper’s husband was talking about her like she should be expected to be alive months later. Why would he think that? He didn’t know about the camp, the Bright (what they called it when they sang), or anything else that would have kept Harper alive that long. He should have expected her to be dead already.  Along those lines, when he found out she was still alive, he should have been shocked and wondered how in the world she was able to live so long.

Hooked or Not?

As a whole, I enjoyed reading THE FIREMAN. A true test of whether I like a book is if I make my husband sit and listen while I describe the story to him. I did that for THE FIREMAN. So, I am hooked on Joe Hill. I will definitely read more books by him.

THE FIREMAN deserves 5 out of 5 stars (an A) for the life-like characters, fast pacing, and excellent suspense. I recommend it to readers who aren’t stuck on the accuracy of medical or scientific details.

If you are willing to suspend disbelief, this is an excellent story you should check out.


Have you read any books by Joe Hill? I want to read HORNS, but I haven’t gotten around to it yet. I haven’t even seen the movie. But, my kids and husband thought it was great.


Find Joe Hill books on Amazon


Jen Schaper
I am a mom of three kids, a wife, and a wannabe author. For Books That Hook, I review books, create features and discussions, design the website, and do all the administrative stuff.

2 Replies to “The Fireman – Joe Hill [Review] science fiction”

  1. I’ve read The Heart-shaped Box by Joe Hill, but I haven’t read Horns yet either. I have it on my shelf just waiting for a good time to read it. Maybe this month I’ll get to it.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

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