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Friday, February 26, 2016

What I'm Reading: The Fireman

 The Fireman.

Hill, Joe (author).
May 2016. 608p. Morrow, hardcover, $28.99 (9780062200631)
REVIEW First published March 1, 2016 (Booklist).

Today I am so excited that I can finally post the review I wrote for the forthcoming Joe Hill novel. I read the book back over the holidays and turned the review in promptly, but in order to best feature this FANTASTIC novel, the review was held until now. Here it is...
Joe Hill, is back with his original take on the apocalypse. Harper is a school nurse who fancies herself an American Mary Poppins, but when a deadly fungus starts infecting humanity, causing people to spontaneously combust, life as we know it ends and a fight to survive begins. Harper, now sick and pregnant, is just trying to make it until she can deliver, but when her husband tries to kill her, Harper is saved by the unlikely and mysterious superhero of this new age-- The Fireman-- who brings her to a community where the sick have learned to live symbiotically with the fungus. But is it really the safe haven it appears to be? Like NOS4A2, this is a long book, but with a curiously ominous tone set from the very first line, a brisk pace throughout, and dozens of detailed action scenes, readers will be hard pressed to stop turning the pages; add in the well developed cast of characters [both good and evil], fun pop culture references, and a satisfying but open ended conclusion, and this is a story that will infect you. Channelling Michael Crichton, Hill presents a strong scientific explanation for most of the dread, but also includes a healthy dose of the fantastic, arming the heroes with a dangerous power much like he did in Horns. Take the ideas, characters, and tone of Station Eleven and add a large helping of the action, villains, and unrelenting menace from Doctor Sleep and you have The Fireman, an excellent example of the very best that genre fiction has to offer all readers today.
Also, while I couldn't fit it into the review, if you have a fondness for the early days of MTV and/or Martha Quinn, this book is for you.

Put this book on hold now!!!! No seriously, stop reading my review and go place your hold. I'll wait.

Three Words That Describe This Book: unrelenting menace, nuanced characters, fun
--Note: yes I said "fun" and "unrelenting menace" are both key words to describe this book. There is a balance between terror and playfulness here that most horror authors cannot pull off without dropping the ball on one or the other. Putting together, those "two" words [I know it is 3 but work with me here] summarizes much of why someone would or would not enjoy this book.

Readadlikes: In the review I provided links to a few options. Please note that many of those links are to reviews by me which also contain more readalikes. You can have fun clicking your way down the suggestion wormhole.

The Fireman also reminded me of Zone One by Colson Whitehead and Flashback by Dan Simmons. All three are some of the most original and interesting post-apocalyptic novels novels I have read. All three are firmly "genre" in that the fear and terror sit center stage and they also have fantastic endings. Fantastic in the horror sense, by the way, which means the current conflict is satisfactorily resolved but the overall anxiety is still left open.

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