Tuesday, October 18, 2016
Review: "The Fireman" by Joe Hill
It has to happen sometime: a writer with a near perfect track record puts out something that is not nearly as good as what we have to come to expect from them. For every 1Q84 there is an After Dark, for every New York Trilogy there is a Travels in Scriptorium and now for Joe Hill, he has his: The Fireman an imperfect book that succeeds in telling a story, but doesn’t seem to have the flash of originality that made his previous novels and one fantastic short story collection so great. That is not to say that this book is not thrilling. It totally is, with plenty of action sequences and loveable/hateable characters that make the 747 page count fly by really quick. But the strange, otherworldly spark (no pun intended) that made NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box leave such an indelible mark is absent here: this is a by the numbers action thriller and very little else. The novels focus is Harper Willows, a school nurse who watches as her world radically changes once it is overtaken by a plague that leaves the infected covered with gold and black markings and finally causes them to spontaneously combust. Soon, she is infected with what they are calling Drgaonscale as well as becoming pregnant. Her husband leaves her, and she is soon caught up in a cult of the infected whose intentions are not as good as they seem as well as cremation crews, whose intentions are just as bad as they seem. The book moves quickly, with the right amount of twists and turns and scary scenes, like when Harper is assaulted by a clan of youngsters among the cult (won’t say more), but I simply don’t feel I will take much from this book, which disappoints me, since Hill was, and still is, one of the best genre authors working today.