PopSugar Reading Challenge: A Book Over 600 Pages


I chose Joe Hill’s latest for this category because I love love love love everything he writes and I knew the 700+ pages would fly by like magic. I discovered him only a couple years ago when I read Heart Shaped Box and I’ve been an avid fan ever since. I’ve been looking forward to his latest work since I devoured NOS4A2 over the course of a happy long weekend.

joe hill the fireman


The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

Nobody knew where the virus came from.

FOX News said it had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980s.MSNBC said sources indicated it might’ve been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelation.CNN reported both sides.  While every TV station debated the cause, the world burnt.  
Pregnant school nurse, HARPER GRAYSON, had seen lots of people burn on TV, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school.
With the epic scope of THE PASSAGE and the emotional impact of THE ROAD, this is one woman’s story of survival at the end of the world.


The Good

I loved the way this book had a almost optimistic view towards the apocalypse. For every human being their worst, there’s also a small  happiness, like cocoa and marshmallows at Thanksgiving.  It’s a theme that continues to the character of the book’s heroine, Harper. Dystopian novels always focus on the doom and gloom and rarely look on the bright side, so it was refreshing to have a character who was not only capable of that but also manages to deal efficiently with the obstacles jumping into her path but never succumbs to the Strong Female Character trope.  Hill has shown in the past that he is gifted with being able to write female protagonists who are jump-off-the-page real and this trend continues with Harper, who is probably his best character yet. The film rights to The Fireman have already been sold, so I predict quite a few A-Listers clamoring to play this slightly jaded, very badass, pregnant Mary Poppins.   A spoonful of sugar helps the effing medicine go down indeed.


The Not So Good

I tried not to, but at this point we need to talk a little about Joe’s dad. Anyone familiar with Hill’s biography will know that Stephen King & The Stand are specters at The Fireman‘s feast – it’s hard to review it without at least a small mention of his father. Hill is a partial to hiding a few Easter Eggs relating to his father’s worlds, but The Fireman is definitely a twinner (or parallel universe for non King fans) novel to The Stand. There’s an antisocial character named Harold with a secret notebook, a deaf/mute named Nick as well as the obvious similarities between Frannie and Harper.  There’s even some slight similarities in the writing,  Hill has adopted his father’s habit of ending a chapter with a foreshadowing cliffhanger.  King himself has written twinner novels before – The Regulators and Desperation in 1996- both of which featured the same cast of characters dealing with a similar threat in slightly different ways.  The Stand is my favourite novel of all time, so I loved the idea it having a twinner, but others may spend a lot of the book with a sense of deja vu.


My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)


The Fireman is published in Australia by Hachette and is available now.

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  1. I read that Hill realised part way through that it was similar to the Stand but decided to plow ahead with his own version. I found Father Storey to be a bit like Mother Abigail, did you? I loved the parallels personally 🙂

    1. Yeah I definitely noticed that too. Even Martha Quinn was a little Mother Abigail-esque with the calling people across the country to salvation. I definitely loved the way they were similar but still different. Honestly though I think Joe did it better. The Fireman’s probably replaced The Stand as my favourite book of all time.

  2. Ooh. Tried to read The Stand but got stuck with it 🙁 I did read ‘the Heart Shaped Box’ a long time ago and really enjoyed it. Joe Hill was doing a reading recently at a book shop near me but I couldn’t get a babysitter … argh! Great review #talkofthetown

  3. Great review!
    I don’t read much dystopian novels to be honest. Have you read Emily St John Mandel’s Station Eleven? This is a dystopian novel but concentrates more on the hope of a better after…not explaining myself very well here 🙂

  4. Not one that’s been on my radar and I haven’t read a Stephen King novel for years. Easy to see how much you enjoyed The Fireman Tory. Great review.

    Thanks for linking #TalkoftheTown

  5. I’m looking forward to reading this book. I haven’t read any of Hill’s other books, but I am reading his graphic novel Locke & Key, which I am enjoying. I hear so many good things about his work that I can’t wait to give it a try.

  6. Wow this sounds amazing!!! I haven’t read such a long book since I had my son a year ago, I am intrigued enough to try it! Lol. I love love The Stand!! I just posted about how I am revisiting the summers of my youth by rereading some of my favorite King books this summer, and I was hoping to get to The Stand as well. Maybe I will try to read The Stand then follow it up with this one..

    Great review!

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