NOS4A2 responsible for a good chunk of it). I was trying to describe the book to someone and I fear I wasn't doing the best job, so let me give it another try.
There's some strange disease (or really a fungus) going around that causes people to spontaneously combust. The country is a mess with people terrified of going up in flames (rightly so) and the country literally being on fire, since a lot of the country (woods, houses, etc.) is pretty flammable and there are loads of human torches going off at a moments notice.
The plague, called Dragonscale, causes black and gold tattoos to cover the victim's body so once you catch it you're literally marked. Not great during a panic so I'm sure you can imagine what frightened people are doing to try and stay safe. Harper is a nurse, at the front line dealing with the patients, taking all the precautions, but as I'm sure you can guess, it's not enough and she wakes up to find the tell-tale markings. Oh, and she just found out she's pregnant so GREAT TIMING. She's discovered and secreted away to a refugee camp for infected people who claim to be able to live with the disease.
Most of the book takes place at this camp where there are lots of characters and who can you trust and there seems to be some weird cultish vibes going on and is there really a cure for the condition and what is it really and so on and so forth.
Harper is the main character and most of the time I liked her but sometimes, man, could she be annoying. And inconsistent. She looooooooves Mary Poppins and quotes her often and seems to have this quality of being very proper. Except she curses a fair amount, in part to piss off this guy who hates cursing, which could be funny if she didn't talk about how little she curses. She could also be stubborn and since you're seeing the story from her point of view she seems to feel righteous in her stand where from a different perspective it felt more childish. But I suppose overall there are worse characters to follow around when the world is ending.
Then there's the titular Fireman, who is part of the camp, but also stays separate from it. He seems to know more about the Dragonscale than the others and yet isn't entirely trusted. He was interesting and funny, when he showed up, which wasn't that often. Though I wonder if he would have been as entertaining if you saw him as consistently as Harper.
The book is long and while NOS4A2 was also, this felt like it rambled a lot more. Maybe that's because comparatively there are so many more characters to deal with and keep track of. That said, I moved through the book quickly because in the end, I did want to know what was going to happen next. Hill does a good job of keeping up the suspense. And there were a lot of lines I highlighted, so why don't I share a few of those to wrap this thing up?
There's something horribly unfair about dying in the middle of a good story, before you have a chance to see how it all comes out.
"I told you" had to be some kind of karmic opposite to the words "I love you."
"What part of the end of the world is funny to you?""All of it. Especially the arrogant notion that the world will end just because humans might not make it through this century.
"They're not bad people, most of them. All they want is to be safe.""Isn't that always a permission slip for ugliness and cruelty?"Gif rating:
Hill, Joe. The Fireman. William Morrow, 2016. NetGalley