9780575130722I am a sucker for a good end of the world novel but in recent years as there have been more and more of these stories published there have been less and less of them that have grabbed me. Justin Cronin’s The Passage totally blew me away (although the sequel did not have the same kick to it) and M. R. Carey’s The Girl With All The Gifts was so original and thought-provoking in its mind-bendiness  and rule-bendiness I think I loved it even more that The Passage. But nothing has quite gripped the same way in this genre until now.

The Fireman takes everything that was epic about The Passage, combines it with all the thought-provoking elements of The Girl With All The Gifts and then goes to a whole new level. Joe Hill has written an end of the world novel that is grand, heroic and mind-blowing but at the same time deeply personal. It is a story of survival in all its immediacy and in all its elements. It is a 600+ page page-turner that you will not want to put down (or end) and will have you enthralled the entire time you are reading it.

As with most books in this genre it tells the story of a virus that threatens to wipe out humanity. But this is not a virus that turns people into zombies or vampires or some other form of mindless killing machines. It is a virus that make people catch fire. The story is told from the point of view of Harper Grayson, a school nurse. We witness the world slowly fall apart as the virus quickly spreads and the world reacts to its consequences. As a trained nurse Harper quickly volunteers to help those infected but as the world turns from bad to worse Harper’s focus is forced to change from trying to help others to fighting for her own survival and that of her unborn child. After becoming infected herself Harper must flee her old life including her husband. Aided but an almost mythical figure known as The Fireman, Harper discovers there may be hope for a new world, the only thing standing in the way is humanity itself.

I have never read Joe Hill before but fell instantly in love with his writing style. Hill captures the undying sense for survival amongst whatever ruins and tragedy is thrown at his heroes blending humour and horror, triumphs and tragedies in pitch perfect amounts depending on what he is trying to generate at different moments in the story. The virus and its nature is also explained as those who begin to survive work out different ways to appease it or even control it.

Joe Hill has written that rare novel that is clever, emotional and addictive. From the novel’s opening to its gripping finale Hill doesn’t miss a beat and I could easily turn around and pick this up from the beginning and start again right now. It will keep you guessing as the roller coaster ride careens up and down, fast and slow and around blind corners to an ending that is worthy of every page, every word that came before it. I haven’t ever read Stephen King before but you get a real sense the mantle is being passed on to the son with this novel. It is a truly special book that I hope is going to do big things. I can’t recommend this brilliant novel enough.

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ISBN: 9780575130722
ISBN-10: 0575130725
Classification: Fiction & related items » Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 608
Imprint: Gollancz
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Publish Date: 17-May-2016
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

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