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.
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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.