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  • Writer's pictureMark J. Keenan

Reading: The Fireman, by Joe Hill

Harper Grayson had seen lots of people burn on TV, everyone had, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school.


Joe Hill has an ability to grab your attention from the get-go, I found that out when I read Horns earlier this year which, for me, has one of the most interesting first pages I have ever read.

The starting line to The Fireman piques your interest immediately; people are burning, lots of them, it's all over TV. . . as a reader you can't help but wonder what is going on? You have to keep reading, keep turning the pages.

There is a pandemic sweeping the world. People are contracting the disease and, well, they are erupting into flame. In this fictional future, Hill introduces us to an unlikely hero, Harper Grayson, a school nurse with a Mary Poppins addiction and a psychopathic husband. Sound odd? Don't worry, even the parts that sounds strange when you say them out loud all make sense in the book.

I really enjoy Joe Hill's work. He creates characters whose humanity shines through, even the villains, and that's what makes this book such a good read. The complexity of human emotions and responses, across such a broad range of people, creates a foundation of reality in a fantastical future where a disease causing spontaneous combustion has become more common than a head cold.

It's an excellent concept for a story, skilfully told by a writer who I think is only just getting started.


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