Joe Hill is a fantastic author. His novels have been very unique and not limited to one area. The Heart Shaped Box involved a haunting. Horns was a fantasy with a mystery worthy of Agatha Christie. NOS4A2 I haven’t finished yet because it so completely terrifies me I have only made it halfway through. With The Fireman, Mr. Hill goes into the dystopian genre.
The world is in flames. Not because of a meteor strike or nuclear war. It is burning because of a virus that turns humans into torches. The dragonscale virus spread over the world and was difficult to contain. At first, individuals spontaneously combusted destroying their immediate surroundings. Then groups of people took out entire blocks when they went up. Then the cities were in flames. No one was sure how the virus spread or where it came from. Ignorance loves a vacuum and before long the infected were segregated and then murdered.
Harper, a school nurse before the world went up in flames, is now working at a local hospital. Her husband, Jakob, is an aspiring novelist. He has got to be one of the most unlikeable characters ever written. As their world shrinks, Harper and Jakob are cut off from all their family. When Harper develops the dragonscale, Jakob shows his true ignorant, arrogant, coward colors and it is not pretty.
The Fireman is a great character. He is everything Jakob is not and more. As Harper fights to survive long enough to give birth to her child and see the child safe, he is her main ally. She must fight the dragonscale, the fires, her psychotic husband and extremist in both the healthy and infected camps. The fireman tries to help her and the other infected find a safe haven from the death squads run by the healthy, her husband included.
I read the book as soon as it came out. It was great and I enjoyed it. Then I got the audiobook narrated by Kate Mulgrew. Although I was already familiar with the story, Ms. Mulgrew’s narration kept me engaged. She did a fantastic job on all the different voices, male and female, and accents. She conveyed the emotions well and kept the tension so I could not stop listening. I enjoyed her narration so much I also picked up her narration of Mr. Hill’s NOS4A2. Now I just have to pick up the courage to listen to it.
This review first appeared at The Audiobook Reviewer.