Sunday, August 21, 2016

Review: The Fireman by Joe Hill

The Fireman by Joe Hill   When I received a review copy of Joe Hill's The Fireman, I was excited and couldn't wait to begin the harrowing tromp through a world plagued with a contagion that causes the host to catch fire. I mean, literally catch fire. After reading and loving NOS4A2, I couldn't be more frantic to read The Fireman. To devour every word on a world that is in ashes with no hope in sight. 

What could possibly go wrong? What could possibly dim my fire and leave a 3-star ratings in its wake?

Harper Grayson is a kind, devoted nurse who is quite frankly almost saintlike. It's impossible to dislike this woman. During a time when tomorrow is uncertain and "Dragonscale" is wiping the world out, Harper still trudges along with her positivity and drive to heal the world. What could possibly go wrong? Everything of course.

Harper's reality changes drastically when she finds that she's been infected and just might burst into flames like so many others. Except, burning from the inside out isn't an option. Especially when you're pregnant. Determined to live for her unborn child, Harper begins a journey that could very well kill her without the help of the Dragonscale. 

Enter the Fireman. John, the fireman, is an enigma. To the readers, the different characters, and probably to himself. He inducts Harper into a world where those with the Dragonscale don't burst into flame. It's actually a rule. "Don't you dare combust!" Or at least don't combust until you can discover the secret of how the Fireman controls the Dragonscale. 

But of course... if it was only that simple.

What I liked most about Joe Hill's The Fireman is that there is always an element of suspense. The idea that at any moment Harper's new haven in the New England woods could be discovered by some very, very bad fuels this novel. One of those very bad people happen to be Harper's husband Jakob. Since Harper's infection came to light, Jakob believes she has doomed him as well. His break with reality is swift and fast. Although Harper discovers he may have always been a jerk, he's become a savage jerk. He won't rest until she and all the others like her, are dead.

Whoa! What a crazy family dynamic.

And Hill spares no expense when it comes to creating real live characters. Harper and others in the hidden community find solace and companionship in "the Bright". Read the book and you'll find out about the Bright. I'd categorize it as a character as well. It's a as real as Harper or Allie, or even John, the Fireman. Speaking of the Fireman, I know he was supposed to be set up as some sort of "god-like" dude, but when it got down to the bones of it, he was boring and quite selfish for not helping the others grow to control the fire within as he had.

With all that's going on, the world on fire, Harper very pregnant, and a gang full of murderous men hoping to kill those with the 'scale on sight, this book still fell a little flat to me. Yes there are certainly moments of thrills and narrow escapes. Why not throw in some double cross with actual murder, and hope that it encourages readers to ignore that they stopped being invested a long time ago in order to move the story along? I must admit, after awhile, I simply wanted to know where the spore came from and if Harper would have a healthy baby boy, girl, or dragon. That was the carrot Hill dangled to keep me interested in the 700+ pages of this book.

Essentially, The Fireman is still a worthwhile read but it becomes too much and could have been shaved down quite a bit. Does this read deter me from reading more Hill novels? Of course not. He's constantly showing why his voice is just as important as his father's (who shall not be named). I simply wish this novel had more flames than little sparks and ash.  ***

Copy provided by Orion Publishing via Netgalley

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