I don’t talk about it that much on here but I have a lot of love for dystopian and apocalyptic fiction. In fact, it was one of the subjects I was considering doing a research project on but got swayed by one true love: gothic literature.
What that means is that when the chance to read something about the end of the world pops up, I am all over it. The lovely folk at Gollancz sent me a copy of The Fireman*, a book which promised just that. A world on fire, a failing society, a complete collapse… Just my cup of tea.
The world in The Fireman is being ravaged by a relentless virus. The infected get strange marks on their skin, known as dragonscale. Worse than that, they have a tendency to burst into flames. Every time Harper Grayson turns on the news, there is a report of a new place being consumed by flames. It won’t be too long before she is too. But Harper has just discovered she is pregnant and she is determined to live long enough to see it born. With the help of The Fireman, a mysterious rebel, Harper fights to keep going for just a little bit longer.
I enjoyed this book, especially the slightly bonkers but all too probable premise for it. It was a unique way to explore the end of the world, and I was utterly fascinated by what the fires revealed about the slow demise of society.
I also thought that there was a fascinating cast of characters who added emotional turmoil to the story on a very personal level. Harper’s phone call to her brother really had me feeling for her and helped me become invested in her story, and those of the other people affected by the virus. She was a highlight for me, especially the way she became calmer and kinder as the world around her turned nasty.
However, this is a long book. A very long book. And parts of The Fireman do lag and drag a little too much. The inconsistent pace is the main reason why I like this book, not love it.
With that in mind, I did still enjoy The Fireman and I am glad that I read it. It perfectly captures the ways in which society can crumble, how people change and warp when the worst things happen and the tiny morsels of hope that we can find, even in the end of the world.
P.S I was sent a copy of this book by the publishers but all opinions are my own.