Audible Book Review of Joe Hill’s “The Fireman” — Derek Barton – 2018



The Fireman by Joe Hill — a Post-Apocalyptic Novel

Released in May, 2016 — 768 pages — Narrated by Kate Mulgrew

I have been for over a year now getting Audible books so I decided I would review and share my opinion on some of them with you. Enjoy!

The novel is a very unique take on the post-apocalyptic genre.  It is not the standard fare of zombies or survivors of a nuclear war — this is the tale of a band of people that live after a global pandemic virus has literally razed a good portion of society.

The Synopsis:

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else, it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

The Review:

I really enjoyed the book…at first…

The whole idea of this virus that is at once beautiful but terrifying is very intriguing.  The victims know that they are doomed yet there is an allure to the markings that resemble tattoos of black and gold.

It poses the question of what would you do?  Knowing that you are destined to die in a terrible flash of fiery death, putting everyone around you at risk as well:  would you kill yourself before combusting, would you run and hide in isolation, or would you go “out in a blaze of glory”?!

My complaint with this novel is that the plot is not focused.  The writer starts with the husband being the antagonist, then before the story sinks its teeth into it, the writer goes with another villain, the Cremation Squads.  These are men that have decided to cleanse the streets of infected in a vigilante-style of justice.

Harper finds safety, teamed up with The Fireman, an infected man who has some control of the virus.  He brings her to The Farm where he and other infected refugees find sanctuary in a cult-like compound.  Here again, Hill changes his mind and decides that the fanatical leaders of the cult are his true villains.

Finally, the story weaves itself back to the still psychotic husband.  Hill doesn’t seem to know who he wants to go after Harper or he doesn’t know which direction he wants to take the story.  In a post-apocalyptic world, you probably would have all sorts of villains and very few people to trust, but I felt that this story was too misguided.

It’s a true shame as he has some fantastic and intriguing characters.  The main character portrayed by the fantastic actress, Kate Mulgrew, is a heroic and yet humble woman who just wants to live long enough to give her baby a chance.

Like his father, STEPHEN KING, he has the great talent for creating memorable and remarkable characters, but until he finds a true focus for his stories, he is going to run into issues like The Fireman.

The Narration:

Kate M

Kate Mulgrew (born April 29, 1955) is an American actress. She is known for the roles of Captain Kathryn Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager and Galina “Red” Reznikov on Orange Is the New Black. She first came to attention in the role of Mary Ryan on the daytime soap opera Ryan’s Hope. Mulgrew has won an Obie Award, and has received a Golden Globe Award and Primetime Emmy Award nomination. She is an active member of the Alzheimer’s Association National Advisory Council and the voice of Cleveland’s MetroHealth System.   –From Wikipedia

Mulgrew does a fantastic job of bringing the main character to life and keeps you immersed in this cruel new world.  And nothing is more funny than hearing Captain Janeway drop a few F-bombs!


The Rating:

Four Stars for the incredible characters and the creative new version of an apocalyptic world.  A good tale that needs better story control and focus.   RECOMMENDED (but with some warning!)


By Derek Barton — Author of ELUDE:   PART ONE (horror/crime), In Four Days: a Horror-Suspense Novella.   Also the Dark Fantasy novel series Consequences Within Chaos and The Bleeding Crown.


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