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Summary

Some flames burn too brightly to be extinguished.

This exceptional new thriller from Joe Hill is essential reading for 2016 and perfect for fans of Justin Cronin's The Passage.

In a world overtaken by a deadly and dramatic new virus, Harper is determined to live long enough to deliver her baby. But when all it takes is a spark to start a deadly blaze, she's going to need some help from the mysterious fireman.

©2016 Joe Hill (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers US

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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A Spark Off The Old Block!

An epic, smoke-filled, blazing star of a book! Joe Hill brings something different to the post-Apocalyptic genre. A creeping disease of deadly fire backed with strong and fully rounded characters. A story that follows a small number of survivors as they try to negotiate the two tier society of the “infected” and the “healthy”.

Although epic in length Hill never really tries to encompass the global impact of such a crisis. Instead he works his characters through scenes that are increasingly harrowing and with growing levels of incendiary violence and poetically described horror. There are scenes particularly in the church that will have the hairs on the back of your neck quivering! He brings through the polarisation of human nature and at one point even seems to ape an Orwellian feel casting echoes of the brilliant Animal Farm. This is about journeys of discovery. It’s about people who can cope with the situation no matter what it throws at them, people whose baser nature is brought to the fore by the situation and even those that are crushed by it.

In amongst the tension, violence and horror there are genuine periods spent developing the characters and their relationships. These sections may at times seem flatter but I don’t think they are wasted and they add to the overall feel of the book. I’ll confess it did feel a bit out of place having a lead character with much of Mary Poppins within her. You’ll see what I mean not long into the book. Even that however won me over as it provided a delicious incongruence to the abject horror of some of the scenes. A spoonful of sugar to take to ward off the sheer nastiness and unrelenting hatred of some of the less pleasant characters. A really clever touch.

The narration by Kate Mulgrew is very, very good. I can only imagine how hard it is to keep up that level of intensity across practically a solid day’s worth of narration. She doesn’t have the greatest of variety in character voicings but she does convey tension, excitement and emotion extremely well.

In summary, an excellent novel, much like his father’s in many ways but with his own originality quite literally burned in. The acid test for a book I often find is how much I want the characters to come out of it and believe me I was cheering for these ones!

This book will keep you guessing right to the very end about who might survive and who might not. An excellent effort and I shall look forwards to more from Joe Hill. I guess we should expect no less from the son of the master of such fiction!

IMPORTANT NOTE: Do not stop listening when the credits start at the end . . . .

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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  • Freda
  • Warrington, United Kingdom
  • 21-05-16

This book is on fire...

Another brilliant book by Joe Hill read by Kate Mulgrew the only female narrator I will listen to. Reading the title you would expect the book to be something different. It is exciting and fast paced and something new. It gives you feelings of horror, sadness and empathy. Just couldn't put it down, was sorry when it ended.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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Really enjoyed it.

I bought it by accident, thinking it was another book, but thought I'd try it, as apocalyptic genre doesn't normally interest me. But so glad I did. It is long but I become hooked. Basically it is a story of survival in a world divided by the infected with Dragon scale and the uninfected who are scared and just want to be rid of the infected. it is a tale of survival, friendships, betrayal, heroics (though a little far fetched at times but the whole story is!) And of course love.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • jennifer
  • alfreton, United Kingdom
  • 12-08-16

The Fireman

This book starts off very gripping, then it becomes very boring and it kind of loses the plot, I did find myself drifting,as a Joe Hill fan I find this book very disappointing, I can only say the beginning of the book and the end of the book is the most gripping.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Interesting concept, ruined by try-harding author

Further ruined by the weak performance of the narrator. I'm struggling to finish this one. I am now well over half way through the book

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Stand mk2?.....but nowhere near as good

A pregnant heroine & Nick the deaf mute travelling through Maine with a raggedy band fleeing plague. Big , bad Harold and his diary? "My life for you!"...and if I remember rightly there was even a Gasmask Man. It's a good job Stephen King is his dad or young Joe would be facing a massive lawsuit!
Otherwise, reasonably good story even if British accent is worse than Dick Van Dykes chimneysweep!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Words fail ( actually they don't really!!) as so excellent

This is one of the best apocalypse/survival book I have ever heard. Some of the book premises stretch credibility but Joe Hills' attention to detail is sooooo good that you buy into his vision. Storyline consistently interesting which doesn't apply to some less imaginative authors. Kate Mulgrew provides an excellent sound track and has the rare ability of giving each individual their own character ... No mean feat when there are so many ... Making it easy to follow. Dramatic interpretation is excellent.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Easter Egg Bonus

Make sure you listen past the acknowledgements as there is a great wee extra.

It must annoy him to say, but he does take after his dad. This was Under the Dome via The Stand and the nutty religious woman in The Mist.

A plague has hit and various groups arise like Lord of the Flies, pretty much any man for himself in some cases. A pregnant nurse makes it to a safe haven where she meets The Fireman who seems to have a supernatural control of his plague.

A good listen, but again, a bad English accent from the American narrator.

5 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Disappointed

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would say try it, in the printed version. I found the narrator was a great distraction from the story due to the poor attempts at voicing the male characters and the absolutely appalling 'British' accent of The Fireman.

If you’ve listened to books by Joe Hill before, how does this one compare?

I've loved all of Joe Hills work, but have only listened to Heart Shaped Box.as an audio book, that was fantastic.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Narrator was average in narrating the story and ok when voicing the female character's but very poor at voicing the male roles.

Could you see The Fireman being made into a movie or a TV series? Who would the stars be?

No

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Not a classic, very poor narration

What would have made The Fireman better?

The narrator should not have tried to do accents, her English was cringe making. Joe's grasp of a story here was poor, filling it in with quotes from old songs to add a little atmosphere & some of the writing was adolescent at best.

Has The Fireman put you off other books in this genre?

no

What didn’t you like about Kate Mulgrew’s performance?

She was making the most of a really poorly written script, but her English accent was beyond the pale, every time the Fireman had something to say I wanted to fast forward.

You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It had potential to be a great story, but the narrator just put me totally off.

Any additional comments?

Really poorly written, including, at one stage, a woman who had just given birth being described as "sore".

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Profile Image for Thor Morten Smerud
  • Thor Morten Smerud
  • 24-07-17

Great listen

Long. Very long. But nice, strong and fulfilling. The narrator did an amazing job! Will definitely pick up more of Joe Hill!

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Profile Image for Lorrie
  • Lorrie
  • 16-07-17

I wish I cared more ...

When I see any kind of plague, end of the world, type book I can't resist it ... I'm always fascinated by humanity at its most over-taxed. No more family or old friends to share memories, a day-to-day existence with no resemblance to what has been left behind, lack of food and the basic necessities -- so, for me, in a nutshell, it's the people who are left behind, inhabiting this unexpected and unwanted existence who are my conduit to this brave new world.
Alas, The Fireman just doesn't get there for me. Harper is adequate as a central focus, but she is lightweight, someone who things happen to but no ball of fire (excuse the expression) in getting things going herself. But it's The Fireman himself that really bothers me. Who cares about this guy! We're supposed to believe that he is, somehow, the face of the new existence -- Joe Hill even named the book after him. But I just don't get it. To me he's at best a rather underdeveloped secondary personality, one you don't really care about and who you'd be happy to leave behind after a few pages. A better title, if it described him, would be The Wannabe Fireman. This guy is all the way through the book, both in spirit and body, and at the end it's -- okay (?), can we go on now? But that's the end of the book!
On a positive note, the story itself was really well crafted and held together very well -- the basic premise of a plague defined by bursting into flames is unique and really, really scary, so no complaints about that.
I have read all of Hill's books and for the most part I really like his characters -- both fiery Vic in NOS4A2 and world-weary Jude in Heart Shaped Box were fabulous protagonists -- but this one, as epitomized by Harper, really lacks depth of character. Sorry, Joe ... this one just didn't float my boat.

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Profile Image for Erlend Svendsen
  • Erlend Svendsen
  • 06-05-17

Unable it continue...

It starts out rather promising, but then it just fizzles out into nothing. I couldn't care less about any of the characters and went nothing happens it becomes a dreaful bore.

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Profile Image for Catalin Ciubotaru
  • Catalin Ciubotaru
  • 22-08-16

Pretty interesting but....

The idea of the book is nice. However it had quite a few cheesy parts that I didn't really like.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Mariechen
  • Mariechen
  • 08-07-16

Disappointing

Would you be willing to try another book from Joe Hill? Why or why not?

Maybe. If his other books are this long, then no, because I felt this was one of the book's big problems. It was way too long and hammered on silly details. It could have been half the length and much better.

Would you be willing to try another one of Kate Mulgrew’s performances?

Unlikely. I found her impression of the male characters a little annoying.

What character would you cut from The Fireman?

Ugh, nobody really. For what it's worth, the all contribute to the plot. Some of them annoy me, but that's no reason to cut a character.

Any additional comments?

Way too many easter eggs and pop-culture references, it dates the book and was a little annoying. Unbelievable dialogue, and prolonged stretches of plot that are pretty boring. Nick was one of the biggest reasons I kept reading. I got tired of the book after book 1, which was pretty disappointing.

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Profile Image for José Antonio
  • José Antonio
  • 05-07-16

Disappointing

Joe Hill can definitely write, but the story is limp and lacking originality. How many post-apocalyptic tales do we need? Mixture of good Cormac McCarthy's The Road and bad post-apocalyptic The Walking Dead. Very good performance by Kate Mulgrew.