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The Fireman
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BotM Discussion - Mod Special > October 2016 Horror Special- The Fireman ***SPOILERS***

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message 1: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
I read this at the end of August, continuing my trend of having read so many of the books of the month. My review is here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

I really enjoyed this book. Joe Hill certainly has a huge amount of talent, no surprise considering his father is Stephen King. The disease was terrifying, but what Hill manages to do is capture the horror that is other people. Most of the really horrible things that happen here are caused by people doing wicked things to each other. Not that the disease and the problems it kicks off isn't bad, just I think you could make the argument that people are worse.

I loved the characterizations, the progression of some things (like the stone in the mouth), and how much a part of this music played. I thought this was a great book, and I'm looking forward to the rumored movie.

I do wonder at the similarites to The Stand. The major disease, the opposing camps of survivors, a mute being an important part of the good guys...

Great book, and I look forward to hearing others' thoughts on it.


message 2: by Paul, A wanderer in unknown realms (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul | 3524 comments Mod
I enjoyed reading the book but still felt a little let down. For me N0S4A2 was exceptional , really standing out as a read, this had decent characters , some really good sections but overall it just didn't feel like anything new or different.
Undeniably good writing from hill but I think he crossed beyond homage to mimicking some other stuff .
I really enjoyed the setup, and the idea is great.
Just overall I'm not sure it really stands out in the post apocalyptic splurge of works in the last few years,
I do love how effortless Hills style is though and will happily pick up more of his works


Sandy | 1644 comments The book has certainly started off very quickly. I too immediately thought of the Stand with the similarities of the infectious disease. I am only about 12 chapters in but I certainly feel for the nurse Harper. Her husband Jake is a real looser. If anyone deserves to burn up it is him.


message 4: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3456 comments Mod
I enjoyed this more than NOS4A2, probably because it was less grisly - I'm not very good with gore... I'm also glad this wasn't creepy.

It was easy to read, and even though it was long it didn't take me very long to read because of the way it was written. Harper's husband made me SO angry though!

Also, dragonscale sounded super pretty. Apart from the whole, you know, burning alive part of it...

My main peeve was the frequent pop culture references (a lot of which aluded to British stuff to show Harper's obsession), many of which seemed unnecessary and kind of threw me out of the story. Like hearing that George Clooney (or Jurj Clooners, thanks Bojack Horseman) had died of dragonscale. That brought me out of the book and into the real world very quickly!


message 5: by Paul, A wanderer in unknown realms (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul | 3524 comments Mod
The JK Rowling execution reference was the one that annoyed me the most. It added nothing but was a bit too dark.


message 6: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3456 comments Mod
Yeah... he would've been better off just saying 'a well-known author' or something less specific.


message 7: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
See, I actually liked the real world references. JK Rowling standing up for what's right, and Clooney dying on a humanitarian mission made perfect sense for what i know of both of them, and I liked the way Hill worked them in to it.


Sandy | 1644 comments Rinn wrote: "I enjoyed this more than NOS4A2, probably because it was less grisly - I'm not very good with gore... I'm also glad this wasn't creepy.

It was easy to read, and even though it was long it didn't ..."


yeah apart from the burning alive stuff!


Sandy | 1644 comments Wayland wrote: "See, I actually liked the real world references. JK Rowling standing up for what's right, and Clooney dying on a humanitarian mission made perfect sense for what i know of both of them, and I liked..."
I will watch for the references in the rest of the book but I did not find it threw me out of the story at all.


Sandy | 1644 comments What is really creeping me out is the whole singing and glowing thing. Haven't progressed much but the fanatical way the people are acting at the camp is a bit... eew!

Harper said it reminded her of the pod people. Does the spore actually take over the minds of humans and if it can't - burns them alive?

Again not very far but just some thoughts going through my mind during reading - where is the author going with this?


message 11: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3456 comments Mod
You'll soon see why they glow when singing, Sandy ;)


Margo I agree very strongly with those who found the constant references the the stand more than a bit annoying. I think it was a big mistake. The comparison was already in the readers minds and he he preceded to rub our noses in it - culminating in the fireman asking Harper "can i call you Fannie?".

I also got tired of the mary poppins think. That was further laboured in the audio version as Mulgrew did an on-again off-again cockney accent for the fireman that rivelled dick van dyke on his worst day on set.

I also found the constant pop references annoying and I wondered did he have to get advance agreement from J. K.'s people.

I liked the first 25% of the book very much but by the end I felt very let down.


message 13: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
As I understand how it works, since he didn't use Rowling as a character, and she in fact was doing something most would say was good and noble and in keeping with her public persona, I'm fairly sure he didn't need to get her permission.


message 14: by Paul, A wanderer in unknown realms (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul | 3524 comments Mod
Interestingly enough a book was recently pulled by James Patterson about the kidnap and torture of Hills dad Stephen King.


Margo Wow, whatever about a cameo of a celeb I think it's a bit off to put them into a torture scene without prior arrangement.

I don't think it's right to use any real person in a fictional story without their permission, even if it is a complementary way. They'd end up scouring books to see if they're in them and what they supposedly did. It feels a bit invasive. I'm surprised at a seasoned author like Patterson doing that.


message 16: by Paul, A wanderer in unknown realms (new) - rated it 3 stars

Paul | 3524 comments Mod
With Patterson expect anything. He'd sell anything hence the ridiculous amount of co-authored rubbish coming from his book factory these days . The Stephen King story is here
https://www.theguardian.com/books/201...


message 17: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
When you become a public figure, you kind of lose your right to privacy as far as being in someone else's story. Tom Cruise got killed in the first season of Preacher, for example. Whether it's right or not is another issue, but it's legal.


Margo Wow, thanks for sharing that link Paul. You're also right in saying that a huge amount of garbage cmes from him, but someone must be buying it!!

Wayland, I guess your right but it's very unpalatable. Is their no legal safeguards? For example if someone if wrote a book in which a celeb was a plagiarist or a pimp. Surely in that case the person could sue, even if it was described as a work of fiction?


message 19: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
If you portray someone in a negative light that's different. But in all the above instances, they weren't. Tom Cruise in Preacher was kind of wrong place, wrong time. Rowling and Clooney in The Fireman died doing good things. Can you imagine that court case? "Hey, they made me look good!"


message 20: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3456 comments Mod
I guess he had to get revenge for King calling him an awful writer :P


Margo Wayland wrote: "If you portray someone in a negative light that's different. But in all the above instances, they weren't. Tom Cruise in Preacher was kind of wrong place, wrong time. Rowling and Clooney in The Fir..."

LOL Wayland, I know my examples were a tad extreme but I think it's dangerous to put
words into another persons mouth or to ascribe actions to them that they may not choose to take. In the case of King I can see that Pattersons book could be very upsetting.


message 22: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
Patterson's book was a lot more extreme. But what Hill did here is allowable. Trust me, the publishers have a legal team that go over books for such things.

Basically, if you really don't want to end up in someone else's work... don't get famous. *shrug* May not be what most want to hear, but I've been in law enforcement coming up on 15 years, and what's "Right" and "legal" aren't necesarily the same thing a lot of the time.


Margo OK that's why I'll never become a famous author LOL


message 24: by Ty (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ty Wilson (ShatterStar66) | 81 comments I finished this a couple of days ago and just loved it. I love a good end of the world tale and this one was pretty great. I wasn't bothered at all about the real-world references, in fact I kinda liked having them in there. It made it feel a bit more grounded in this world.

Dragonscale has to up there with the all-time great humanity destroying illnesses. The way it plays out on the skin of victims is beautiful, and knowing that you could possibly make friends with it and make good use of it would make me highly tempted to try to get infected. Just imagining the fireworks shows I could produce brings a smile to my face. :-)


message 25: by Ed (new) - added it

Ed Erwin | 112 comments I liked the premise, and enjoyed the first section, but then lost interest. I only made it through 33% and decided that I just don't feel like doing another 67%.

I don't normally read horror, so I guess it just isn't my cup of tea. I did love the comic he wrote, though: Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome to Lovecraft.


Margo Was this horror? I would call it dystopian scifi.


message 27: by Ed (new) - added it

Ed Erwin | 112 comments Margo wrote: "Was this horror? I would call it dystopian scifi."

I basically agree, but it can be more than one thing at once! It feels a lot like a zombie story to me, but with differences. It was labelled as 'horror' for the purpose of this book group.


Margo Oh yeah, our Halloween read!! I forgot that. Not what I what I think of as horror usually.


Sandy | 1644 comments Rinn wrote: "You'll soon see why they glow when singing, Sandy ;)"

not there yet - looking forward to it though...


Sandy | 1644 comments Ty wrote: "I finished this a couple of days ago and just loved it. I love a good end of the world tale and this one was pretty great. I wasn't bothered at all about the real-world references, in fact I kinda ..."

I'm with you Ty. Tattoo's with a function and without the pain. What could be better than that? It reminded me of humans that want to be turned to vampires to get immortal life. Be careful what you wish for...


message 31: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3456 comments Mod
Just a note that I've moved this thread to the Mod Special folder, purely because it doesn't fit in the other two and 'Books of the Month' is just for announcements :) Maybe I'll just rename this folder to 'special reads' or something :P


message 32: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
I DID ask where to put it. :P


message 33: by Rinn, Captain of the SSV Normandy (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rinn (rinnsohma) | 3456 comments Mod
Just me being fussy ;)


message 34: by Wayland, Ernest Scribbler (new) - rated it 4 stars

Wayland Smith | 2859 comments Mod
No worries. I'm the same way with a lot of stuff. Just teasing ya back.


message 35: by Lel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lel (lelspear) | 1799 comments I love this book. I found it really hard to put down in places. I haven't read The Stand as im really not a fan of Stephen King but might check it out if it is like this.

I agree with Margo, I didn't really find this a true horror book although the decline of Mankind's humanity was horrific to read as the book progressed. There were some very scary ideas in here. Like Carol's idea of taking Harpers baby to use as insurance. Also Jakob's whole mental decline was scary to witness.

What did people think of the idea of keeping Sarah's elemental alive? I would hate to be in that situation but I would like to think I would let someone I love go rather than trap them in a never ending flame.


Margo You're right Lel, the breakdown of civilization is truly horrorific but to me horror means supernatural. I guess it's conditioning!

Keeping Sarahs essence alive struck me as weld and a little sick, but the fireman was a weird character. I couldn't quite get my head around a romance between him and Harper - although I think was all on her side. He didn't strike me in any way as a romantic character.


message 37: by Lel (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lel (lelspear) | 1799 comments Margo wrote: "but the fireman was a weird character. I couldn't quite get my head around a romance between him and Harper - although I think was all on her side. He didn't strike me in any way as a romantic character. ."

Out of everyone in the book I found him the hardest to figure out. At times he just seemed like such an arse and at others really sweet. I found it hard to match up a guy that would keep Sarah going to one that would risk so much to save strangers


Margo Maybe once a sweet guy but totally unhinged by his life experiences??


Vinca Russell (vinxlady) | 1288 comments I finished this on Friday and absolutely loved it. I think it's my favourite Joe Hill so far. I definitely preferred it to NOS4A2, which I did enjoy but didn't have that 'must read more right now' kind of feeling with. Did anyone else chuckle at the NOS4A2 reference towards the end? When Nick says the lit up place looks like where santa lives in Christmasland? I thought uh oh, things aren't going to end well here!

Addressing some of the comments from the thread so far...

I didn't have a problem with the real-world references, I quite like it when there are elements of the real in with a fantasy/scifi plot. It somehow makes it more relatable when you know who or what they're talking about.

I agree that I would probably shelve this under dystopian scifi rather than horror, but it certainly has a fair few horrific moments, so I guess it would work in either genre. Quite a lot of dystopian future novels could be classed as horror tbh, that's kind of the point of dystopian really, that it's a horrific vision of the future.

The fireman certainly was an odd one to figure out, and I'm not sure if I really liked him or not - too much of a loose canon. I found it odd to see him and Harper together after so little build-up of that relationship, and while he was still keeping his former flame alive (if you'll forgive the pun) in her weird fiery state.

However, whether I liked the characters or not, they still all brought something different to the story. Whether that was psychotic violence and hatred or a spoonful of sugar and Disney songs, every character, big or small, was distinct and built a great overall picture of the world following the plague outbreak. I loved seeing all the characters deal with things in their own ways and found it really engaging.

This book really brought out my bookaholic tendencies, I just couldn't put it down and kept sneaking a few pages here and there. Every page just made me want to know what happened next to the people and the places. Loved it from beginning to end :-)


Vinca Russell (vinxlady) | 1288 comments I just remembered the one thing I really didn't like, which of course popped into my head 2 minutes after I posted my previous comment.

I didn't like the way so many chapters ended with phrases like 'if only I'd known how wrong I was', or ' by the time I came back, everything had changed beyond recognition' or 'I wish I'd known this would be the last time I spoke to him'.

Paraphrasing there, but I did get annoyed at so many shadows of foreboding all over the place. It stopped the bad things from being surprising, shocking and delivering extra impact, and took away from the happy, joyful moments. I think Hill shot himself in the foot with this tactic because everything could have been slightly heightened in terms of emotion if he hadn't thrown in so many portents of doom.

Still loved it and gave it 5 stars, but don't like this little writing trick.


message 41: by Efrat (new) - added it

Efrat | 90 comments Good labor discription!


message 42: by Roger, Knight Radiant (new) - added it

Roger | 1998 comments Mod
i got about half way through this book and just didn't want to finish it. I didn't think it was that bad, but I also didn't care if I got to the end. I didn't rate it because it's not something I would normally read so I think it's unfair to rate it using my normal criteria.


Fannie D'Ascola | 412 comments Vinca wrote: "I just remembered the one thing I really didn't like, which of course popped into my head 2 minutes after I posted my previous comment.

I didn't like the way so many chapters ended with phrases li..."


Vinca, that's exactly what I told my husband yesterday. I like the book so far but I hate it when they tease what's going to happen next. Don't bother if you're going to write it soon, too much words for nothing.


message 44: by Cory (new) - rated it 4 stars

Cory (corydora) | 31 comments I finally finished this after starting it for the group read :) I really enjoyed it, although like many others I thought the foreshadowing was too heavy-handed.

What did people think of the "extra story" at the end? (view spoiler)


Carolyn  (ckarasch) Finally got through this one. October was a busy month, by the time I got to this book I had to return it to the library. It took two months to get back. :)

Overall, I enjoyed the story. As a horror book, I guess I was expecting something more. Ultimately, the scarier parts were related to how messed up humans can be. This is something we have seen in any story where there are infected and non-infected. So nothing new there.

I liked the romance, what can I say, I like kissing in my books. So that meant that the ending was not up to my liking. It seems like they went through a lot of work just for nothing.


Carolyn  (ckarasch) Cory wrote: "What did people think of the "extra story?"

I guess I missed the extra story. Sad...I hope it meant a happier ending.


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