The Fireman by Joe Hill

I just realized that it took me almost a month to finish this novel. I read the whole ASOIF series in a span of about 25 days, meaning about 5 days each for a 1000+ page novel. This novel is only 700+ pages long but I didn’t finish it soon enough. I can blame my busy schedule or my occasional lack of interest to read, but honestly, the novel had a lot of weak spots.

I read NOS4R2 by the same author and I didn’t like the book that much. When I read about this book though, I was completely stoked and bought the novel as soon as I saw it at my local bookstore. I read it the same day that I bought it, but sadly it didn’t take me that fast to finish it. While I enjoyed this a lot more than NOS4R2, I’m still honestly a bit disappointed. Hill still hasn’t wow-ed me, but hopefully the third novel would be the charm.

The novel has a lot of fillers and it could’ve been 200 pages shorter. The first 1/3 of the novel really had me at the edge of my seat, but then the middle slacked off. Then the middle started to become interesting, then it started to slack off again. Then it became interesting again not until about 75% in the novel. The novel is highly inconsistent, and sadly that really affected my reading mood.

While the plot is inconsistent as hell, thankfully the characters made up for that huge flaw. I really liked almost all of them. I hated Allie at first, but I learned to like her in the end. Harper is your typical neutral protagonist who tries to be a hero, but doesn’t really qualify to be one. John is honestly both the strong and weak point when it comes to the characters. While he is interesting and plays a huge role in the novel, he is as inconsistent as the plot. The antagonists are also interesting, especially Jakob. Carol on the other hand really annoyed me. I wanted her gone a few paragraphs in.

The Sci-Fi aspect of the novel really stood out in my opinion. I understood most of the things that Hill incorporated because I studied mycology just a few months ago. I know that this new fungal species that Hill created is clearly fictional, it still entertained me. The apocalyptic aspect of the novel resembles some novels I’ve read before, but overall for me it can be considered original. It’s not one of those annoying sci-fi/apocalypse that are really predictable and laughable.

I was really confused as to whether this novel deserves a 3 or 4 star rating, but I had already established that it clearly deserves a 3.5 rating. This is one of the reason why Goodreads really needs to add the half star option. I opted to rate this novel 4 stars because while there are a bunch of bad parts, the entire novel is really interesting and commendable. The characters would leave you yearning for more, and honestly the ending did not satisfy my curiosity. A bunch of short stories might help with my curiosity, but it seems like Hill wanted this to be a standalone. I’m not particularly happy with the ending because it has a lot of loopholes that Hill didn’t really fix. I think maybe he opted for an open-ended novel, but I’m not happy with it.

If you’re a Sci-Fi fan and really likes novels that heavily depend on the premise and the characters to make it interesting, then this is for you. I myself forgave the author for the boring parts, and I’m sure that you guys can too. I know it seems that a 4 star rating is too high for a novel that I didn’t really enjoy, I’m honestly still recommending this. It’s too long, but still fun overall.

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