From the award-winning, New York Times best-selling 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 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.
Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads - armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn't as alone as she fears: A mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow firefighter's jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as the Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted...and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.
In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman's secrets before her life - and that of her unborn child - goes up in smoke.
©2016 Joe Hill (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers
This book had great potential, the premise of the the story was really good but unfortunately the author just fell short. I thought that the narrator did a great job but the writing style killed the story.
Maybe if available at the library.
Maybe it's better to read then listen to this audio book?
I loved the author's previous book. While it was clear he was inspired by Steven King in his earlier work, it didn't jar you out of the story as much as this book. So if you loved The Stand, you'll like this book (maybe). As long as the blatant rip off of plot devices or characters doesn't bother you. It's not plagerism, it's not homage, it's just obnoxious. For examples, see the bottom of this review.
Aside from this, the absence of consistent world building was jarring. I was intrigued at the concept (the infection itself was pretty original). But that's where it ends. The post-infection world was 2-dimensional. For example, a year after the world fell apart, an important scene was premised on both the "911" system still functioning normally, and that the system would send an ambulances on the word of someone saying, "I'm not infected." Also there aren't any people unless directly related to the action. It reminded me of the scene in Truman where action is only where Truman is, and everything outside of that scene doesn't exist. Several times the plot relied on cell phones still functioning when there was no electricity for months. In addition there was a jarring lack of character motivation. I kept waiting for an explanation of why several characters personalities changed radically. (This might be worse in the audible version). My final example is the complete "blind faith" that the island is a haven, not one character voices hesitation in going there (until they are already there.) . Have they ever read a book or seen a movie about governments rounding up infecteds? In a world where "cremation" teams exist, it is unbelievable that they could travel hundreds of miles without major interruptions.
Okay- similarities with the Stand
Both books are post apocalyptic after an infection spreads across the world.
Both books have a deaf mute character named nick;
Both books have a pregnant heroine, and there is a question whether the baby will be infection free
Both pregnant heroines find a love interest that is not the baby's father;
Both books rely on survivors making their way to a semi-godlike safe haven.
Both books have the safe-haven leader being in a coma, waking briefly and passing on vital information and then dying
Both books have a "long walk" portion where our heroes have to walk hundreds of miles
Both treks include a domesticated animal;
Both books have 1 of the group getting seriously hurt on the way;
Both books use the phrase "my life for you"
Both books have characters who are originally in a jail and the "locked up and how they got free" story;
Both books (as do many King books) have a human character gone "crazy" and trying to kill our Heroes (There is NO explanation for Jacob going homicidal psychopath).
I could go on
I rate as follows: 5 Stars = Loved it. 4 Stars = Really liked it. 3 Stars = Liked it. 2 Stars = Didn't like it. 1 Star = Hated it -The Great Mutato
I tried, I really did. More than half way through and although I really wanted to like it, this is one of the few books that I will put back on the shelf and maybe look to finish another day.
The story, the characters just did not engage me and I have been disappointed.
I liked the narration, well done by Ms. Mulgrew. The story line started out well, but then fizzled and just dragged on and on with not much happening. Very little suspense. Harper will not be one of my favorite heroines. Well, to be honest maybe it did get better but I could not continue listening as my mind just kept wandering. I made it halfway and quit. I loved Nosferatu and Heart Shaped Box and Hills other books so I just knew I had a winner. But NOT!
Yes, I liked all his other books. This one just did not do it for me. Too slow and boring
Probably, because most of the mundane-overdone dialog will be cut out.
Blind listener reading everything, especially sf&f & mystery/thrillers, restricted to audio so picky where credits are spent #BooksRule
An extremely enjoyable read... The author enthralled me again... Great story that grabs and engages throughout,although it may mirror The Stand a bit too much at times... Kinda apocalyptic, kinda fantasy/sf, entirely engrossing... Great characters, both good and bad... I particularly appreciated all the homages to other works, especially those of the author's father, which makes the aforementioned mirroring fit better than it might have in a different instance... After all, I imagine he read a fair bit of those books, if not all... The narration was very good, and adds to the experience w/o distracting... Worth the credit... PS. A tease at the end that leaves us wondering if the end of the story is truly the end;)
I love almost anything post-apocalyptic, zombie, scifi, ect. Always looking for some new earhole entertainment!
Joe Hill does not disappoint! This is my second book by him and both were great! I always love hearing Kate Mulgrew narrate. She does an excellent job. This is a great post apocalyptic book with a fresh new idea! No zombies, but instead a contagious spore that causes people to burn. Most people go up in flames while others learn to embrace and control it. I definitely recommend this to anyone!
Obama is toast; George Clooney torches out on a humanitarian mission; a defiant J.K. Rowling is executed by firing squad for helping infected youth; apocalyptic visionary/conspiracy theorist Glen Beck burns to a fizzle in front of his chalkboard on camera; and Keith Richards remains among the living, because, "Nothing can kill him." A deadly plague races around the globe. Theories of origin range from an ancient alien source buried beneath Arctic ice sheets, released as the global thermometer rises, to Russian military germ warfare and various middle eastern factions, to even the evil creation of Halliburton. Beginning with scaly black patches flecked with gold veining, everything about the dragon scale-like disease is unprecedented and unpredictable. A spore inhaled into the lungs, Draco incendia trychophyton spreads across the body, culminating in the infected person's spontaneous flame-out. With no cure insight the pandemic throws the world into a planet of fire ravaged post-apocalyptic communities struggling to survive as the civilization once known blinks off: electricity, food production, law and order, Google, Coke…and how much Spam can you eat before you actually want to die?
Though horrific, you'll find yourself unashamedly laughing out loud at the tongue-in-cheek maelstrom. Joe Hill, an award winning author of horror novels and comic books (the Locke & Key series) could possibly scare you to death...but you'll die laughing. "Horror is the cousin of comedy," says Dr. Julia Wilkins, like she is labeling the branches of one of those family trees (and we all know which family tree Joseph Hillstrom King sprouts from). "Cries of terror are heard first, followed almost immediately by a wave of chuckles, giggles," in the phenomenon she calls “relief theory”…”we achieve such joy from being scared in certain situations because, while our bodies tell us that they’re dangerous, we still know deep down that we are safe." But don’t get too comfy or secure, and never doubt the horror element; Hill’s characters are the nightmarish dregs of humankind that will keep you up at night. Cremation Squads gleefully dispose of even suspected carriers, roaming the streets in hateful vigilante packs with a penchant for violence and creative extermination. The Marlboro Man is a sociopathic hate talk-jock that could squash a puppy and enjoy it.
The Fireman himself is John Rookwood, a mysterious and haunted man trying to find himself without losing his sanity to the strengthening group mentality among his pod of survivors. He meets the practically perfect in every way, Harper Grayson, a school nurse volunteering during the epidemic, when he carries a young boy into a hospital congested with scaled victims. As you can guess, her role model is Mary Poppins and she exudes the sugary wisdom to a fault. If she is saccharine enough to give you cavities, her husband is the perfect convoluted argument for "opposites attract." Jakob Grayson seems simply wonderful at first -- together, after a night of passionate lovemaking and reflection on the state of the world they decide at first sign of any scale they will drink a stashed away bottle of French *honey-moon* wine and check out of the inferno wrapped in each other's arms. A night of amoré, a bottle of wine, the slip of the Trojan...and baby Grayson is quietly gestating -- but so is the dragon scale. When the first black scales appear on Harper, Jakob goes Edward Hyde on her. And while he makes a perfect d-bag, it is a 180* so severe I can only equate it to something as fantastical as Jekyl and Hyde, and it was difficult to swallow even with a spoonful of sugar. Convinced she has condemned them both with her goddamned bleeding heart volunteering with the infected patients -- Jakob unleashes a full vitriolic, psychotic break at Harper, who cheerfully deflects the bombardment even while he confesses he plans to kill her. You’ll just have to read how hard he snaps.
In the infected refugee colony (Camp Wyndham) where Harper eventually flees for what is left of her life and her unborn child’s, with the help of The Fireman, strange things are afoot…an eerie group mentality begins. As with any good post-apocalypse colony, the cream of the cracked rises to the top of the social strata and we see how the stress of survival works. Inside this sanctuary slowly becomes where the true horrors reside. The few unaffected by the odd side effects of the scale decide they must escape. And escape is the only way out.
This is a doorstop of a book, and I love a good big book, but this one could’ve used some heavy-handed editing. Maybe some of those pages could’ve been used to develop the monster Jakob becomes overnight, build some back-story into a few of the characters to add some reference to how far they deviate from sanity. But that’s my only criticism. Hill must love and admire his mom because the guy sure writes a strong female character with brains and integrity. He even calls out the Stones for a bit of musical misogyny of sorts (Mother;s Little Helper, Under My Thumb etc.). It’s a fun book, with plenty of Easter Eggy references to play Looky with. Ex: The name of the book: Ray Bradbury’s first choice for Farenheit 451; P.L. Traver’s Mary Poppins; dozens of rock songs and show tunes, references to scores of books (especially those by father); literary references; horror movies; and some real fun punches at a few celebrities. The story itself, Hill says, “it’s my version of The Stand, soaked in gasoline and set on fire.” (I guess he finally relizes he no longer needs to hide his genealogy or wonder about his own success being attributed to his father.) There could be an attached sheet to find and enjoy all of those literary eggs.
I had a great time reading this, it was fun and it kept the personality of the author. It may have a few bumps, a few editing issues, problems with straying a bit from a well-constructed and tight plot, but that’s personality. How many authors have the chops to have the by-line: A Joe Hill (or whom ever) novel? It's a 4-5* Joe Hill (damn! I hate books that have a hanging end!). I hope writers never turn into carbon copies of each other, like auto tuned singers and computerized, pitch-perfect music. I like a little screeching feedback, the hint of a live performance, and the artist shining through. Kate Mulgrew is an outstanding narrator that breathes into the story a sense of happening that keeps the plot alive and the characters connected. Her only weakness might be trying to distinguish the many characters and their voices from each other, especially when she has to be a male Englishman, but that's splitting hairs. She is a narrator I'd consider as a selling point for any audible novel.
The best part of this audible book is the narrator. Kate Mulgrew is now one of my hero's. Her gravelly voice is beyond captivating.
The worst part of this book is the character development. An example is the husband wife interaction that starts things off... On one hand you have a do no wrong perfect wife. A woman that can't do anything but help everyone. On the other hand you have a 100% selfish husband that is crazy. Intent on getting his way and blaming his wife for all of his ills. The absolute extreme in which these characters embody good and evil hits the realm of the ridiculous and then keeps going.
A close second to character development in the running for 'worst aspect of this book', is the plot. The story is so confused. Hill has episodes that are held together by some time line, but the timeline is vague. Hill dives into EXTREME detail. Just like his father, he has a bad habit of batting the smallest thoughts past their welcome. Neither Stephen King or Joe Hill have ever figured that what is their greatest strength (the ability to focus on nuanced narratives) can also quickly turn into their greatest faults (boring over kill).
This is a horrible book. Disjointed. 2 dimensional characters. A plot that is confusing. And repeated instances of the author mistakenly thinking that over using his best gift is better than showing restraint and letting it peak out in rare moments.
Believe it! He's almost as good as his Daddy! Keep 'em coming Joe! Kate Mulgrew was an amazing narrator by the way. 5 stars Red!👏👍
I found that the story just meandered along. There were a couple of interesting segments to the story but not enough to hold my interest. much of the lot felt very contrived and I did not feel anything for any of the characters. Disappointing because I have enjoyed a couple of Joe Hills other novels
Always looking for something new but I may play it safe and pick either Stephen King or Phil Rickman next time. I would be very happy if I could find another book as good as William Peter Blatty reading his book the Exorcist.
No I, was OK with her narration for NOS4R2 but only just.. her voice is not for me I am afraid
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