Published by William Morrow on May 17th 2016
Genres: Science Fiction, Thrillers
Fun fact, Hill mentioned in the foreward/introduction that the title of his book came from Bradbury’s original title of Fahrenheit 451.
The Fireman felt very different from Hill’s other books. There is not the magical call of Christmasland, though there was a nod to it in the book as well as a slew of references to other genre books, particularly Harry Potter. There was not a ghost haunting a rock star or magical keys that unlock abilities, or horns that appear overnight. This book felt less fantastical and more thriller, but you’ll find absolutely no complaints here because it is an extremely thrilling read that I found almost impossible to put down.
The premise is that there is a new, incredibly dangerous plague called Draco Incendia Trychophyton (aka Dragonscale). Dragonscale is quite frightening because it can cause its victims to burst into flames, incinerating anything and anyone near by. Dragonscale is absolutely fascinating. I have to admit, it sounded like it would take a stronger suspension of disbelief until I read the book. Hill presents the Dragonscale in such a way that if feels clinically/scientifically possible. There are many traits he assigns to it, and when broken down makes it sound more plausible. Granted it is still fiction, but I thought the presentation of it was done incredibly well.
One of the things I loved most about this book is that it was about more than just an epidemic of some incendiary virus. It was about how hate and fear can be used in such a way to really fuel the fire (really, no pun intended) as well as how love and hope can overcome. The atmosphere surrounding those with the virus is border lining on hysteria. Yes, the thought of sitting next to someone who may at any time burst in to flames, potentially taking you and everyone else in the building with them is terrifying. But at some point, it seems that the healthy have removed any sense of humanity from the sick.
They no longer see the sick as people, humans who deserve some level of compassion or help, but they see them as evil intruders who are likely to destroy the world. Honestly, I don’t often bring politics into my reviews, but the correlations between this and modern day politics is absolutely hard to miss. I feel like I would be doing the book a disservice if I didn bring it up. I absolutely could not help but see how some of the behaviors motivated by hate and fear in this book paralled those of some political campaigns. Hate and fear have been used as a rallying cry by many politicians in the past, using voters’ fears and fanning their hate to make them afraid to vote for anyone else.
Now if politics is not your thing, and any ties to our real world don’t interest you, well, don’t worry. This story is absolutely gripping whether you choose to delve into deeper meanings or not. This is a long book, but I could not put it down. It was a fascinating read that made me curse real life every time I had to set it aside.
As for characters, I loved our protagonist, Harper. She is a school nurse and all around selfless, good person. The type of person who volunteers her time to go and treat the Dragonscale patients at the hospital, even if it means there is some increased risk for her. She spends her time and energy just trying to help people be a bit a happier and a bit more comfortable. Anything she can do to help, you can be sure she will. It just so happens she is not dealt the best of hands lately. When things start to get bad, entered The Fireman, a character who feels to be a living legend. Harper’s life is irrecoverably changed, and alongside The Fireman, she puts up a fight to make that change be for good.
Overall, I absolutely recommend this one. I honestly don’t think I can come up with any negatives. Absolutely loved it. The Fireman is relentless in all the best ways.