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The Fireman

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  55,648 ratings  ·  7,432 reviews
From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exa
Paperback, 768 pages
Published January 3rd 2017 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published May 17th 2016)
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Abby I loved NOS4R2, and I was really looking forward to this one... but good God was this tough to get through. Like, REALLY tough.

I thought the first 10…more
I loved NOS4R2, and I was really looking forward to this one... but good God was this tough to get through. Like, REALLY tough.

I thought the first 100 pages or so were pretty good. Great, actually. But then it just hits a wall and never quite recovers. Nothing happens for so long that when anything happens, ANYTHING - it doesn't matter how mundane it actually is - it almost feels like picking up a pulse from a week-old corpse before the damn thing croaks again.

There were so many problems that I don't even know where to start - flat characterization, half-baked post-apocalyptic elements, poor/uneven pacing, a complete lack of forward momentum... I can go on. I just don't understand how you can come up with an idea this promising... then decide on exploring the least interesting aspects of it.

I think Joe Hill is a talented writer, but I just didn't dig this one at all. (less)
Standback I found NOS4A2 very different, stylistically, from other Joe Hill works I know and love. I didn't enjoy NOS4A2 either (although I know lots and lots o…moreI found NOS4A2 very different, stylistically, from other Joe Hill works I know and love. I didn't enjoy NOS4A2 either (although I know lots and lots of people did!). I felt like it was a book that centered around the generic horror of a couple of shlocky, themed villains; if that was your sense as well, I'd say that others of Hill's works are far, far stronger and more interesting.

"The Fireman" isn't out quite yet, so no opinion there yet. But Hill has *lots* of very excellent work out:

"Horns" is a fantastic novel with great voice and characters, that tackles its central premise from several different angles.
If you're amenable to graphic novels, "Locke and Key" is an absolute masterpiece - the characters are heartbreaking and achingly real; and at the same time it's a story full of wonder and magic (and horror, oh yes.)
And his short fiction collection, "20th Century Ghosts," is excellent - with a huge range of stories, each one excellent in a different way.

(I found Hill through his novella "Gunpowder," which is a *phenomenal* piece about children with world-shaping abilities, who turn a planet into, well, a powder keg. This novella is currently, unfortunately, *criminally* unavailable anywhere.)(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  55,648 ratings  ·  7,432 reviews

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Will Byrnes
The people in charge can always justify doing terrible things in the name of the greater good. A slaughter here, a little torture there. It becomes moral to do things that would be immoral if an ordinary individual did ‘em.
They have been trying to take us down for quite a while. Some may enjoy the end of the world (EotW) arriving in the form of an incoming asteroid. Hey, it worked for the dinosaurs. Alien invasion is always popular. Very big in the 50s, whether by maleficent alien civilization
Well, that was a spoonful of nonsense.

It had a promising start with the outbreak of a disease known as Dragonscale which first manifests as dark marks on the skin. Getting a free tribal tattoo might not sound that bad, but the real problem is that eventually infected people burst into flames and burn to death. The damage caused by walking blowtorches and the fear of being infected have society teetering on the brink of collapse.

Harper is a young nurse who discovers that she has contracted Dragon
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Did you read about the bacterium that thrives in volcanoes, right on the edge of boiling rock? That's us. Humanity is a germ that thrives on the very edge of catastrophe.

It shows up on your skin looking like a form of stripes. Beautiful black and gold markings. Dragonscale aka Draco Incendia Trychophyton is a contagion in which the person will end up being burned alive. There is no cure.
Palm Springs commercial photography

Harper is a nurse who has been working in a hospital day and night as a volunteer, trying to help anyone w
2.5 stars

Boy, that ending petered out like a squeaky fart, didn't it?


I mean, the beginning was good. I got sucked in by the whole Dragonscale/apocalypse thing. The middle was goodish, but it meandered around too much. Then the last part leading up to the ending had a bit of the nail biter going for it, but the actual ending?
WTF, dude? Where's my payoff for reading this enormous fucker?!


In the interest of transparency, I should mention that I'm the kind of reader that gets butthurt by en
Edward Lorn
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one

UPDATE: Dropping this to two stars because it really was only an "okay" read. In time it might drop to a one star, because the more I think about this book, the more I dislike it.

It is with a heavy heart that I must give this book three two stars. Last night, I was certain it would be four stars (this was before I realized how short-sighted the novel really is), but after much consideration, I just couldn't do it. Hopefully, I can effectively explain why.
Mar 31, 2021 rated it really liked it
I finally picked up The Fireman for a Buddy Read with my dear friend, Shannon. Considering everything the world has been through over the past year, it was an excellent choice.

We certainly never ran out of things to discuss.

Following a group of characters, after a worldwide pandemic decimates the population, this book is a chilling example of society stripped bare of its conventions.

The plague itself is spread by a highly contagious spore, physically representing itself on the human body as sca
Jeffrey Keeten
Feb 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-apocalyptic
”...Her left arm was sheet music. Delicate black lines spooled around and around her forearm, bars as thin as the strands of a spiderweb, with what looked like golden notes scattered across them. She found herself pulling her sleeve back to look at it every few minutes. By the end of the following week, she was sketched in Dragonscale from wrist to shoulder.

When she got over feeling winded and sick, she had to admit to herself that it was curiously beautiful.”

 photo Fireman_zpsa7fkaq6v.jpg

When Harper Grayson comes down
3.5 Stars

The world was suddenly catching fire........such a promising beginning........such a wonderfully threatening title and book-cover, but........

THE FIREMAN just wasn't what I was expecting or at least hoping for. Without giving any part of this "entertaining" story away; yes, it was indeed entertaining....entertaining, but often predictable and a bit ludicrous here and there, but still very entertaining!

After the excellent beginning, the story travels a different path that I won't divulge

5 Stars.
An absolutely stellar novel by Joe Hill! Vastly different than all of his other books & superbly well written! I didn't want it to end.

REVISED: 6.12.17.
I listened to the audiobook version in two days last week (which is now available on Hoopla) even though I've already read the book. I couldn't help myself - the incredible Kate Mulgrew narrated it and she also narrated Joe Hill's NOS4A2. She made that book sound even scarier than it already was - thus listening to The Fireman was kind o
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin

I gave the book 4 stars because there is a part that lagged for me, but it's still awesome!

I'm assuming everyone knows there is a disease going around and if you catch the spore your skin becomes dragonscale. And then later on you burst into flame! Yay! NOT!

One of the main characters in the book is Harper and she is a very nice nurse. She sings to kids and people at the hospital and she's just a very nice person. She has an arse of a husband named Jakob and I loath
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
A very interesting take on post-apocalyptic! Would recommend!
Evans Light
If you dislike unpopular opinions, then please don't read this review. I'm breaking from the pack on this one.

I didn't want to, trust me. But here we are:

This is the book I've been eagerly awaiting since I finished his five-star NOS4A2, only it wasn't.


Rambling, corn-pone, cartoonish.
Unlikable characters, interminable dialogue, zero forward momentum.

Other than a mild dislike of the second half of HORNS (which was basically a retelling of the first half), I'm a huge fan
Jul 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dystopia
Sometimes I really enjoyed this apocalyptic horror tale, but many other times, I really struggled to continue. I've now finally realised why Hill's story of a 'Dragonscale' virus that leads to millions internally, and externally burning up in flames is a great constructed reality; but the problem for me is the specific story he tells, feels like one of the least interesting of the many stories such an apocalypse would evoke. I just noticed, that in the end it took me six months to finish this!

Sep 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, sci-fi, 2016-shelf
This was an honestly fascinating ride of a novel. I wasn't entirely certain what to expect because of some reviews, but I'm certainly happy I got to read it. I was also a bit more satisfied with the ending than I thought I would be.

So what's the big deal with Hill's big novel?

Is it really an origin story for a handful of firestarters among a whole world's spontaneous combustion? A survival tale against the hate and fear riddled remnants of "clean" humanity? One of those ever-decreasing remnants
Jan 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-read, audiobook
Joe Hill made quite the 'spark' with this novel, which garnered a significant following in 2016, culminating in winning one of the Goodreads awards for its genre. With curiosity piqued and a gap in my reading requirements, I chose to dive in while trying to steer clear of the ripples and spoilers that others have left around me. Harper Grayson is a school nurse with little of interest going on in her life, though the world is coming apart at the proverbial seams. People from every corner of the ...more
4.5 stars!

Dragonscale! It's a disease, a plague really, that etches one's skin with what looks like black hieroglyphics. Unfortunately, at some point the hieroglyphs light up and burst into flame and when they do, it's all over for you. If you happen to be standing next to anything flammable, it all over for that, (or them), too.

The world as we know it falls apart due to the 'scale, and people react much as you think they would. Picture how Donald Trump would react to people bursting into fla
May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Joe Hill, what have you gone and done?! I have been waiting a long time for your new book to be published and then you went and made it so good that I couldn't put it down and now I've finished it! That was quite a trip.

Joe Hill has total mastery of this story. His writing is witty and his cultural referencing is spot on. There are many references to Harry Potter (he must be a child of the generation who grew up reading those volumes) and to his dad's works, John Grisham and of course Mary Poppi
Joe Hill's last novel, NOS4A2 was an engaging horror romp which lasted for more than seven hundred pages, but maintained to keep both tension and interest in the reader to the very end. In comparison, Hill's latest novel is completely unlike its predecessor, with whom it only shares its enormous length. To put it simply - The Fireman is an overly long, convoluted, uninteresting and ultimately very disappointing effort.

At its heart, The Fireman is a post-apocalyptic novel, with a premise that has
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, buddy-read, 2020
Wow! I’m glad I read this when I did. It seems everyone has read The Fireman.
I didn’t go into this book expecting much due to mixed reviews.

I love Joe Hill’s writing because he loves short chapters and well thought out plots. His imagination is fantastic and I’m always excited to read another book by him.
Because of the mixed reviews on The Fireman, it brought down my expectations a bit.

Maybe that’s why I liked it so much! I went into this book neutral.

The Fireman starts off with the world liter
Sep 11, 2017 rated it really liked it

A horrible malady is spreading like wildfire through the human population. Caused by spores from a fungus called Draco Incendia Trychophyton.

The illness - named Dragonscale - is manifested by gold and black scales on the skin. On the upside, the scales are rather pretty and decorative.

On the downside, they cause victims to spontaneously combust.....to suddenly burst into flames and incinerate. And there's no treatment or cure.

Harper Grayson is a twenty-something nurse who's tending to Dragonscal
So I've read all of Joe Hill's books (other than some rare stories and some of the comics), and of course when The Fireman came out I had to get a copy immediately. It did take me a few months to get to it. I didn't know what it was about, except that it had something to do with a fireman. But I trust Joe Hill and he hasn't let me down yet.

So right away we were seeing that something was very wrong. The apocalypse was nigh, as we learned pretty early on that some dreaded disease was sweeping acro
Jul 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-said
By Jove, reading this was as much fun as a laundry basket full of curious kittens. It is a virtual treasure trove of pop culture references, a tip of the hat if you will to J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin and of course his father, plus many, many more, not the least of which is Mary Poppins. Be careful where you step as you will find yourself tripping over them during the course of your reading experience. Such fun!

Okay so first the premise:

A plague of sorts is sweeping across the civilized wor
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a perfect book. I downloaded the review copy with a bit of trepidation - the length, the genre - I read it, devoured it, in two days. 200 pages on Saturday and 513 pages on Sunday. The pacing is perfect and the occasional humor makes for a very enjoyable read.

Dragonscale is a sickness that is highly contagious and can cause people to spontaneously combust. Half the world is burning down and people with Dragonscale are being hunted before they can infect others. Harper is a nurse who is t
Holy fuck. This book.....

excited cat photo 1310247277001.gif

Spoilers marked in review :)

I was a little nervous about starting The Fireman because of how long it was. I often find that books more than ~400 pages have a tendency to feel diluted and I usually end up skim-reading or skipping entire pages.

If anything, I wished The Fireman was longer than 768 pages.

A deadly pandemic sweeps across the globe, infecting people with Draco Incendia Trychophyton, aka Dragonscale. It marks the hosts with black
Paul O’Neill
Oct 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Awesome book. I expect no less from one of my favourite authors

Whilst entirely different to his other works, this still hits the mark. Less of his trademark horror (although he does a good job of creating terror and suspense when required) but not quite the stereotypical post-apocalyptic story we've all become used to.

The conditions that cause this story to unfold are all very well thought out. Harper, our main character, has to be up there with one of the best characters I've read (I was going
I was torn on this book. While it had some stellar, 5 star+ moments (view spoiler), most of the rest was one or two star filler that would have improved the book greatly if edited down.

The book is called The Fireman, but I wasn't all that into his character (view spoiler)
Will M.
Jan 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I just realized that it took me almost a month to finish this novel. I read the whole ASOIF series in a span of about 25 days, meaning about 5 days each for a 1000+ page novel. This novel is only 700+ pages long but I didn't finish it soon enough. I can blame my busy schedule or my occasional lack of interest to read, but honestly, the novel has a lot of weak spots.

I read NOS4R2 by the same author and I didn't like the book that much. When I read about this book though, I was completely stoked a
May 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a read! Seriously, this is not at all what I was expecting. I have come to expect a certain bit of gore from Mr. Hill and this book had almost none. I’m not saying it was an easy read. It wasn’t. It’s basically an apocalyptic novel so who could expect happiness and light? Keeping in mind the topic and Hill’s other novels, if you were looking for a sweet story you have a screw loose. Or two.

The world has been overcome by a devastating plague. What the symptoms make no never mind, the fact th
Mar 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
It took me two attempts to read this. That Hill can write is a given. But this book doesn't have any heart. It's not enough of anything to make it memorable. I found myself greeting the ever more depressing and dangerous paths of the plot with little more than a shrug. At the final denouement, I honestly couldn't care less who lived or died. Perhaps because there was little surprise in it, the format of the book was well trodden. Definite points for the creation of Dragonscale, now that was a fu ...more
May 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now this is what I call a GOOD book. In fact it is a brilliant book especially if, like me, you have a liking for dystopian stories. You could say that it is yet another story in which the world is being ravaged by a plague of some kind, which is killing people off in their millions. That is exactly what happens but the "plague" in this case is fresh from Joe Hill's vivid imagination and it is totally original and very cleverly done.
The fireman of the title is a wonderful character - an ordinary
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Joe Hill's debut, Heart-Shaped Box, won the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel. His second, Horns, was made into a film freakfest starring Daniel Radcliffe. His other novels include NOS4A2, and his #1 New York Times Best-Seller, The Fireman... which was also the winner of a 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Horror Novel.

He writes short stories too. Some of them were gathered together in

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“There's something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out. Of course, I suppose everyone ALWAYS dies in the middle of a good story, in a sense. Your own story. Or the story of your grandchildren. Death is a raw deal for narrative junkies.” 93 likes
“Your personality is not just a matter of what you know about yourself, but what others know about you. You are one person with your mother, and another with your lover, and yet another with your child. Those other people create you--finish you--as much as you create you. When you're gone, the ones you've left behind get to keep the same part of you they always had.” 35 likes
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