Run for your life, the world is coming to an end … again. But it isn’t zombies or vampires this time, it’s a disease called Draco Incendia Trychophyton, commonly known as Dragonscale. This is a spore that causes people to spontaneously combust. Black and gold bands appear on your body and when you get upset you go up in flames.
Billions of people have the disease, cities are burning to the ground, the air is nothing but ash, and the human race is on the brink of destruction.
School nurse, Harper Grayson and her husband Jakob, are thus far unaffected but they agree that if and when they show signs of Dragonscale they will kill themselves before they turn into human matches but that’s before Harper finds out that she’s pregnant.
When all the schools are closed down Harper volunteers at a hospital to help people with Dragonscale but after the hospital goes up in smoke she discovers that she has the disease. Husband, Jakob, is ready to kill both of them but Harper wants to give birth to her child hoping that it will be healthy. Jakob is now afraid that Harper has given him the disease and the only thing he wants to do is kill her. She escapes from their house looking for a safe haven and finds some help with The Fireman. Harper and The Fireman met once before at the hospital when he came in with a small child who had appendicitis.
The Fireman whisks Harper away to a community with other infected people where they all live avoiding the rest of civilization. Infected people are now being killed by cremation squads whose sole purpose is to hunt down everyone with Dragonscale and kill them before they infect the healthy population. Harper’s husband, Jakob, who was never infected, is now part of the cremation squad and has a vendetta against Harper and The Fireman.
Harper, The Fireman, and the others in their community have to keep themselves alive, stay away from Jakob and his new friends, and contend with major changes in the place where they live.
Author, Joe Hill, (son of Stephen King) takes the readers through more than 700 pages of life as a person with Dragonscale and how this group avoids the public but eventually collapses within itself.
“The Fireman” is mostly a good book if not a little wordy at times. The premise of the world going up in flames is a new one for me and it pulled me into the story but as the book progressed some of it started to bother me. First of all, The Fireman’s ex girlfriend lives in a fire that he has to maintained or else she’ll, I don’t know, extinguish I guess. Yes, there’s a reason for her to be around but but I’m pretty sure Mr. Hill could have seen another way around to solving the problem that she solved. And, I really hate when a character is “not only merely dead [but] really most sincerely dead” and then pops up out of nowhere to resume where they left off. This happens in enough places in this book that you start to expect it.
And there’s this thing that Harper has with Julie Andrews and “Mary Poppins” and “A Spoonful of Sugar.” I get where the author was going with it but the movie, the song, and Julie Andrews are mentioned so many times I wondered if the movie was being released again and Hill was being paid to promote it.
A 700 plus page book is big and I think a solid 100 pages could have been edited out but I say the same thing about most of Stephen King’s books too. Like father like son.
If you like dystopian novels, like me, grab “The Fireman” and enter a different type of scary world. But be forewarned there are a lot of characters to keep track of and the story is not for the faint of heart.