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The Fireman

A Novel
Written by: Joe Hill
Narrated by: Kate Mulgrew
Length: 22 hrs and 19 mins
4 out of 5 stars (39 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the award-winning, New York Times best-selling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it's Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies - before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she's discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: They would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob's dismay, Harper wants to live - at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine, too...if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads - armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn't as alone as she fears: A mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow firefighter's jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as the Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted...and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman's secrets before her life - and that of her unborn child - goes up in smoke.

©2016 Joe Hill (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Joe Hill is a fantastic story teller.

I found the tale terrible, gripping and heartwarming. I loved every minute. I'm a huge fan of Stephen King and now Joe Hill.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Kate Mulgrew takes an amazing book and makes it stellar.

I loved the story and concept of the novel. I bounced between the electronic, audible, and paper version depending on where I was.

I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to connect with the story because Ms Mulgrew was reading it, but I was pleasantly surprised. As a result, I will now go out of my way to find something she has read for audible and purchase it. Her intonations. Her changing inflections. Her different voices all made the story so much better.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

I loved this so much

This was such a good listen, I wish it would have never ended. The story went places I didn't see coming, there were characters I loved and despised. I had not read anyrhing about this audiobook before starting it, and knowing Joe Hill I thought it would be horror. It is post apocalyptic, but also so much more than that. Give this a listen, you won't regret it!

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • WM
  • 2018-09-15

What a great story!

Kate Mulgrew is so good, I want her to have my children, seriously, I have four of them she’s welcome to them. Not one of them reads aloud like her or cleans up after themselves for that matter, it’s ridiculous, dishes and socks everywhere, I’m constantly stepping on lego, of course none of them know whose socks or dishes these are or who broke the you name it... all that to say, Kate Mulgrew is one honey of a story teller!
What a great story indeed I enjoyed it so much, the characters were very believable, there was no shortage of conflict and the Fireman was awesome. I wish that I had Dragon’s Scale, then... I’d finally be above the law. And I guess I’ll keep my children for the time being, they’re pretty great too.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing story

Loved this book from start to finish. Can't wait for his next book. Narrator was good as well.

#Audible1

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great!!

Listening to this book was best at making house cleaning go faster because I didn't want to stop listening

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Sherrie The Fox
  • 2018-09-05

Too childishly written.

I am a huge fan of Joe Hill. With that said, I was not enthused by this book at all. I decided to continue listening, however, in hopes that it would get better. It did not. Kate Mulgrew is a wonderful narrator. I really liked her voice and she played all of the parts very well.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Ariel D Hansen
  • 2018-03-02

don't waste your time.........pointless. wordy.

skipped half. awful. sexist. If they said spoke with his hands one more time. we know it's sign.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Jeremy
  • 2016-10-19

Gave Up

Sounded like a great story premise, but just could not get into it. Extremely slow moving plot and very little tension. At 1/3 of the way through the book when the main storyline was focused on the mystery of someone stealing a bag full of worthless personal items, I decided this one wasn't really going anywhere.

Written by anyone else, I doubt this title would have been published, or at least would have been drastically edited to focus the plot.

Fans of Stephen King will probably appreciate the references to his works, and maybe that will be enough to carry the story for them. But this book fell really flat for me. Very disappointing.

51 of 55 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Jeffrey Nelson
  • 2016-07-11

Disappointing

After reading Heart Shaped Box, Nos4a2 and Horns - I really had my hopes high on The Fireman. So disappointing! The story wasn't bad but I never connected with the characters. I actually felt guilty that I didn't really care very much about Harper & her baby by the end of the book. Give me more flawed characters like Ig Parrish & Judas Coyne so I can jump on board and enjoy the "ride" of the story with them. Perhaps one scene from first person perspective that "ignites" from the DragonScale would help us understand the horror (Nedry from Jurrasic Park or Chrissie Watkins from Jaws come to mind).

30 of 32 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • John Haas
  • 2018-08-16

As someone else said...disapointing

I've read Horns and Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill, as well as a graphic novel collection of his. This novel is not up to the same level of quality. There are so many cliches and tropes in this novel: The disease that may not be a disease, the quiet brooding loner, the lovely young lady thrown into strange circumstances, the abusive husband who will show up again later in the book.

Kate Mulgrew does a good job of narrating the book and I would give another one by her a try.

40 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
  • Carla
  • 2018-03-07

I couldn’t finish this one!

I’ve tried three separate times to finish this one. I just can’t!! It’s moving way too slow for me. I’ve read a few of Joe Hill’s other novels and have liked them.
I rated this one based on the few chapters I did make it through.

40 of 43 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • BikeVON
  • 2016-06-06

Not interesting at all :(

OK Joe has the talent to write but the story was terrible on so many levels. I’d need a double scotch to be able to deal with the protagonist Harper. Her everything Mary Poppins was killing me. She was, 1/3 grown woman, 1/3 nurse,1/3 grown woman enthralled with children’s story. She is a pregnant nurse who becomes a gymnast in the latter part of her pregnancy. Throughout the whole story her method dealing with and resolving difficult situations was to sing a Mary Poppins song. Walt Disney and P.L. Travers should sue Joe Hill.

Draco Incendia Trychophyton had the potential to be an interesting disease. Instead it was a back drop with barely 15 minutes of uninformative discussion. Nothing on a reputable research on the transmission of the disease or how people chose to fight the disease. What is discovered by a cult of people is singing nursery rhymes and pop music high will lessen the dangers and give them a euphoric "high" People who do not make the connection between their emotions dragon scale … well they go up in flames.

The book is to long for all practical purposed and contains NO real action. We are there from the conception of Harper's baby to the delivery of the baby and it was grueling. We endure 9 months of pregnancy with a group of saccharinely sweet infected people living in fear of the cremation squad. The cremation squad are fanatics incense to eradicate the infected people. The irony, the leader goes by the name Marlboro man who of course smokes cigarettes and one of his groupies is Jacob, the now deranged husband of Harper.

For the younger generation, the Marlboro man was an advertising character created by a cigarette manufacture. The Marlboro was a filtered cigarette, which was considered feminine. So they created an advertisement depicting a rugged cowboy smoking. As a side note whenever Jacob and Harper get together sparks fly.

In the end Joe illustrates the most frightening threat is the one we present to ourselves. That is a laborious 22 hours and 22 minutes of discussions that was agonizing to endure to illustrate the inhumanity of man and the journey man makes to retrieve the hope in Pandora’s box.

I was listening and became enthralled with my cloths ironing (LOL) before I realized that I missed hours of the story. I read a few reviews and discovered it was one of actions parts but not worth going bad to read how it unfolds.

I read this for the underlying sense of impending threat of the unknown usually presented in Hill’s novels. Instead I was bored by the “musical”, a poor musical of May Poppins.

50 of 54 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Brent Nelson
  • 2018-04-04

THIS BOOK IS HORRIBLE!!!

this is such a terrible book. the story is about a contagious disease that makes people spontaneously combust and catch fire. but the author wants you to believe that a small group of people are able to overcome the disease by singing along as a group at Church. i guess if you like that kind of thing you "may" like this book. but it's too much for me. I can't even bring myself to listen to the book anymore. way too touchy-feely. the only reason I got the book was because it was recommended so I decided to take a chance on it. I really wish I hadn't. I wouldn't waste a credit on this book.

59 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • mossilini
  • 2017-11-21

Hoping for more

The first hour was great. After a few hours I wondered if it was going to get better. I tried so hard not to give up. I hated every character so much I was almost wishing for their death. I recommend skipping this one.

29 of 31 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Dee
  • 2016-12-22

Disappointing

What disappointed you about The Fireman?

I appreciate a novelist creating a strong female heroine, especially when parts of the story read like an action hero story. But an 9 month pregnant action hero that does not ever go into labor? Running, jumping, explosions, walking dozens of miles? Come on - worse than Mission Impossible.
Additionally, multiple story types were used at the same time, and it just did not work. Science fiction, fantasy adventure, action, post apocalypse, etc. Too much all at once.
The never die bad guys were Terminator style.

Would you ever listen to anything by Joe Hill again?

Wont be rushing into it. This was my second read from him - the first was a completely shameful ripoff from his father, including setting, characters, and references to many King books and characters. I was hoping it was a fluke, but there were a few in this book as well, not to mention terrible writing, way too many words, and poor character development.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I have listened to one other book with Kate Mulgrew as a narrator. I am a fan of her acting but not as a narrator. She doesn't do voices well, and her inflections are poor. It was hard to get through.

What character would you cut from The Fireman?

Many characters could have been cut.

39 of 42 people found this review helpful