Book Review of “The Fireman” by Joe Hill (no spoilers).

Great Read, but the Fireman is only a supporting character; The story revolves around Harper and a spreading spore, nicknamed Dragonscale. It is infecting much of the world population. She meets “The Fireman” (John) in a hospital that is one of the few places that is still attempting to treat, house, and feed the infected amid societies growing fear of them.

A glowing flame silhouettes a man walking.
The cover of the paperback version


John enters the hospital dressed wearing a fireman’s raincoat and helmet. He has a halligan (ax-like tool) and insists on immediate treatment for a 5-year-old boy that he is carrying. Security is called, and the scene is starting to escalate into violence when the Fireman threatens the nurses and security with his halligan.

Harper steps in and defuses the situation by unknowingly using a phrase from the song Romeo and Juliet. Harper

tries to deflect the scene away from the front of the long line of infected when she says, “How about it babe, you and me.”

The Fireman is distracted from his anger. He asks her if she is Dire Straits fan. Soon Harper discovers that one of the boy’s appendix is about to burst and thus justifies his priority admission.

The setting for this story is in New Hampshire. It all starts as Harper sees an infected man stumble on to the playground of an elementary school where she is the school nurse. Before her eyes, the man spontaneously starts burning from the inside out. Later, she watches as the infected, and the resulting fires from them play out in catastrophes on cable news channels.

The region where she lives and works starts to stigmatize the infected similar to rabid dogs. To avoid gangs of vigilantes, the infected to seek hidden communities that must venture out and steal food and supplies from the healthy.

I thought any kind of plot line was slow to develop amid all the catastrophes.  Eventually, the main plotline came and so did a few pleasing parallel plots.

The message I got from this book is that society will act on fear first before considering how much more we are the same than we are different.


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