THE FIREMAN by Joe Hill

THE FIREMAN

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Pleasing mayhem from horror/thrillermeister Hill (NOS4A2, 2013, etc.), the chip-off-the-old-block son of Stephen King.

When J.K. Rowling gets it, you know things are bad. And not nicely, either: she’s gunned down by a firing squad, and “her execution had been televised on what remained of the web.” George Clooney has already burst into flames. Why? Well, Clooney was doing his humanitarian thing, and Rowling was just trying to help young people unfortunate enough to come down with a scorching case of Dragonscale, a manifestation of a very unpleasant malady caused, as the epidemiological portion of Hill’s yarn details, by a runaway spore. The worst effects of the illness make themselves known to school nurse Harper Grayson when a street person bursts into flames: “His head tipped further and further back,” Hill writes with graphic glee, “and he opened his mouth to scream and black smoke gushed out instead.” About the only positive thing that comes of this pyromaniacal display is that Glenn Beck torches, too. But then, so do thousands of innocents, causing the usual end-of-the-world scenario, as good Christians form fundamentalist posses to round up and, well, isolate anyone who shows signs of the illness. Against them are arrayed the victims, not all of whom spontaneously combust. Harper’s encounters with this horrible disease, which brings her into the orbit of a mysterious Brit called The Fireman—hero and villain all rolled up into one—are overall less trying than dealing with her nasty husband, a master of passive-aggressive put-downs. Hill shares his father’s ability to write well and sympathetically of and for women, especially the hero of the piece, Harper, who has resources and intelligence far above and beyond what the menfolk suspect. But he also shares dad’s fondness for long, long stories; heft may be a genre convention, but Hill’s narrative too often grinds to a near halt under its own weight.

A satisfying tale overall, just right for the beach. Be sure to wear sunscreen.

Pub Date: May 17th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-06-220063-1
Page count: 608pp
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 2016




11 PAGE TURNING THRILLERS FOR SUMMER:

FictionTHE SECOND GIRL by David Swinson
by David Swinson
FictionTHE DEVILS OF CARDONA by Matthew Carr
by Matthew Carr
FictionCOLLECTING THE DEAD by Spencer Kope
by Spencer Kope

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for CHAOS
VERDICT:
SKIP IT
Cover art for <i>THE DAILY SHOW</i> (THE BOOK)
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for SCRAPPY LITTLE NOBODY
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for SCYTHE
VERDICT:
BUY IT

MORE BY JOE HILL

FictionNOS4A2 by Joe Hill
by Joe Hill
Fiction20TH CENTURY GHOSTS by Joe Hill
by Joe Hill
FictionHEART-SHAPED BOX by Joe Hill
by Joe Hill

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

FictionTHE PASSAGE by Justin Cronin
by Justin Cronin
FictionINTERIOR DARKNESS by Peter Straub
by Peter Straub
FictionFIRESTARTER by Stephen King
by Stephen King