The Fireman by Joe Hill

Mike’s review

I suppose it makes sense to start with a plot summary first. The world is over-run with a spore that causes people to spontaneously combust (well, it’s more like combust under stress, but still). The sick are outcast because no one knows enough about the spore to know the sick aren’t contagious when alive; rather, it’s their ash that is infectious. The book follows Harper from before she was sick to getting sick (and pregnant), to her joining a camp of hiders. The camp has discovered a way to live in harmony with the spore. Unfortunately, they haven’t totally figured out how to live in harmony with one another… (How’s that for a teaser at the end!)

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Emergency Kisses in The Portable Mother is the cutest frickin’ idea ever.

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“‘Your personality is not just a matter of what you know about yourself, but what others know about you. You are one person with your mother, and another with your lover, and yet another with your child. Those other people create you–finish you–as much as you create you.'”

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Structurally obvious, but Harold Cross’s diary sections are great and I kinda what them to be every other chapter. I think this is out of longing for something different. Everything is at least pretty good through the book, but I have to think some of the earlier stuff could have been trimmed out. So the Cross sections add some needed pizzazz.

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How could I not love the theory that the spore was hidden in ice caps and when we melted them, we released it, were karmically paid back for the destruction we wrought on the Earth.

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This isn’t surprising coming from me: no way to the nurse and fireman love each other. They’ve seen each other like four times this whole book.

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The fact that no one thinks Martha Quinn’s Island is a trap must mean it’s a trap, right?

Every new clue it’s a trap is agonizing.

How do you accidentally sign Christmasland instead of North Pole?

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If there are still healthy animals why not move out to the deep woods?

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Hidden story like a hidden track on a CD!

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

Mike’s review
Hey look, I can do something besides talk about myself. Truthfully, I have a few of these reviews laying around, but haven’t taken the time to post them. So, here goes.

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The rolling chapters were exciting, then scary because I might not ever come to a good stopping spot. This is something I’ve considered doing before. It doesn’t last through the whole book. I can’t remember if there was a good reason to stop or not anymore.

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It’s been a long time since I read this, but let’s try an approximation of a plot summary. Vic is not exactly abducted, but kind of as a child. See, she has this bike that takes her to a sort of Imaginationland. While here she encounters someone of a devil. This is Charlie Manx. Vic escapes. Manx is locked up. The guy who pulls Vic from Manx (not exactly. Vic does most of the escaping herself, but the final couple inches are helped by Lou) marries Vic. They have a kid. The kid is later abducted by a “dead” Manx. Vic has to save her kid.

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I remember thinking a lot about gender roles and how Hill subverts them while reading this, but I wrote down no good examples.

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Shout out to David Mitchell/Jacob de Zoet. Cloud Atlas! I know Hill loves Mitchell.

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Pretty casual use of the n-bomb.

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Couldn’t Lou corroborate Vic’s story? he talked to Wayne, who said he’d been taken by Manx. Probably not enough to completely rule out Vic, but should at least buy time and prevent guns from being pointed at her head.

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This is poppier than his others, less scary, more of a horror genre cheese to it. Still entertaining though. This is going to sound terrible, but Hill has great sensibilities to him. He does a lot of things that I really appreciate, that speak to me personally. I hate myself.

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Shout out to Craddock from Heart-Shaped Box.

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Notes about the type are the worst. Thanks, Joe Hill, for making this one possibly the best part of the book. You’re at your best as an impish Internet troll.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill

Mike’s review

There will be no plot summary, because every new development is a lot of fun and to go into the plot here would be too spoilery and ruin too much of the fun. But I have to mention a couple things in order to talk about this at all. So mild spoilers included a couple times. One major one, but I’ll mark that separately.

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Don’t want to stop reading, but I have to work tomorrow morning.

One more chapter. It’s fine.

Hopefully this ghost story doesn’t give me nightmares.

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“In a sense he supposed he had always used [guitars] as weapons” is irresistible as a writer. Bad, but unavoidable. Necessary and ripe. Candy corn on Halloween.

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Holy fuck. This is all so creepy.

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Holy fuck. Blowjob murder with a snuff film in the background.

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Stop-motion ghost is surprisingly effective.

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So good that I’m paying attention enough to notice when Jude calls Georgia Florida, which I would normally miss due to similar names.

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“If hell was anything, it was talk radio–and family.”

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Jude watching Ruth be taken is crazy intense.

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It’s nice to see the impish troll of Joe Hill’s Twitter come out in his writing [this is the spoiler alert part] when Marybeth dies and Jude wants to call Bammy.

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The old man fucking an abused child–now 18 year old–joke on the second to last page probably wasn’t necessary. Not exactly how I want this to end.

Horns by Joe Hill

Mike’s review

Chapter One FTW. “and for the second time in twelve hours he pissed on his feet.”

Not sure what it means exactly, but I’m sure mentioning Dean Koontz has real world significance for Hill.

I can imagine pure genius joy pouring from Hill when he writes some of this, it’s that damn clever and I love it and I know Twitter enhances that image (it’s the same response he has when he troll-baits).

This is how present day, then the past which leads us here structure should be done (I’m sure there’s a shorthand name for this structure, but I don’t know it). Looking at you Breaking Bad (really, the first season’s cold open, sure, great, but all the others, come on). The structure/point of view shifts are done extremely well. Flawless.

Making Lee a Republican would feel a little cheap to me (and it is, I suppose), if I didn’t read Hill’s political tweets and know that his stances are fairly nuanced in real life. So the cheap shot of a Republican killer is ok, somehow, because of that.

I know I think every book I like is the best book ever, but seriously, this might be the best book ever. Certainly more fun than Franzen’s Freedom, which I have to force myself to read.