The Fireman

Optioned for film months before its publication, The Fireman should establish novelist Joe Hill as a household name not unlike his father, Stephen King. Lately, the son’s novels have been outdistancing dad’s works with their care in character development and fantastically eerie literary worlds. The Fireman is yet another apocalyptic tale of “what if” some devastating virus put humankind on the brink of extinction. In lesser hands this would read closer to a mash-up of King’s Stand/Shining/Firestarter novels, but Hill has more ambitious things in store. The end times in question are the result of a long-latent virus that, possibly due to global warming—the frozen spore released by the melting of ice within the arctic circle—has found its way to people. The “Dragonscale” virus tags its victims with elaborate, tattoo-like designs upon the skin that increase in volume and ornateness leading to the carrier’s spontaneous combustion. The Fireman ranks as first-class escapist lit for hot summer reading.