By Joe Hill
Published by Gollancz
Paperback - 19 January 2017
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. And while every TV station debated the cause, the world burnt. Pregnant school nurse, HARPER GRAYSON, has seen lots of people burn on TV, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind her school. But when she realises she has become infected, she is determined to find a way to survive - at least long enough to see her child born. No matter what is left of the world for them to live in.
Joe Hill is certainly a talented writer with plenty of imagination - not surprising when you realise his father is Stephen King.
The Fireman features great writing, sharp dialogue and a complex page-turning plot. A powerful fungal infection, causing people to burst into flames, is devastating the world. At the heart of the story is Harper Grayson, a pregnant nurse who is now infected and wants to keep living for the sake of her unborn child.
The book is a mix of horror, action, science fiction, dystopian thriller, mystery and romance, with more than a hint of zombie fiction (although the infected retain their sense of self). The author has put ordinary people in an extraordinary situation - and you, as the reader, see how they survive, cope and pull together as the world burns around them.
At 765 pages, The Fireman isn't a quick read - and it's also heavy in your hands. I did feel that there was some 'overwriting' here, slowing down the pace at times - some of the background narrative and irrelevant conversations could have been cut. I guessed certain twists too, although this didn't detract from my enjoyment.
Overall though, the book is emotionally charged, action-packed and filled with depth. There are many themes running through it, including hope, acceptance, fear, shame, love and a sense of belonging. Highly enjoyable - just make sure you give yourself plenty of reading time for this epic journey.
I received an Advance Reader Copy from the publisher through Lovereading.