Here in the library world, we've been debating for months (yes, truly) about what the 'big book of summer' will be this year. What's the big book of summer? It's the blockbuster book that simply everyone will need in their beach bag. One of the books that comes up again and again is The Fireman by Joe Hill.
In The Fireman, a fungal plague is sweeping across the globe. Those infected by the plague have beautifully colored scales sweeping across their skin before they spontaneously burst into flame in the final, inevitable stages. People call the disease Dragonscale. Harper is a young nurse who cares for Dragonscale patients. Knowing the risk of infection, Harper and her husband have taken vows to kill each other should either show signs of the deadly disease. Two things happen that change everything: the first is that Harper discovers that she's pregnant. The second is that she sees Dragonscale begin to creep across her body. Harper desperately wants to give her child a fighting chance so she decides to try to carry the baby to term. She has only one hope: a mysterious figure known as the Fireman who has somehow managed to contract Dragonscale and yet he is able to survive with fire beneath his skin. To get to the Fireman, Harper must race across a post-apocalyptic world filled with hysteria and hate, as well as flee her husband who is still hell-bent on fulfilling their vow. Readers will love the excellent writing, dark humor and amazing characters in this read from Joe Hill. There's a bit of a wait for this item right now, but luckily there's a whole backlist just waiting to be checked out.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
The book Station Eleven is broken into multiple perspectives. One perspective is an aging actor looking back over his life. The second is a doctor who watches helplessly as a deadly pandemic makes civilization as we know it collapses. The third is a young woman who travels to tiny settlements with a Shakespeare troupe, trying to bring art to those struggling to survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Despite the changes in years and the world, all of these perspectives are connected. Station Eleven is a beautiful book about art, survival, and fame. Like The Fireman, Station Eleven makes you think and ponder through the vehicle of a world-changing event. We often recommend this book to our book clubs.
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
Zone One has a more supernatural-tinged plague, like The Fireman. The world has fallen to a Zombie apocalypse. The story opens with a civilian fighting unit that is tasked with cleaning out and re-taking an infected area of Manhattan known as Zone One. Colson Whitehead is a master at writing realistic and impeccably crafted stories and then gilding them with a bit of the fantastic to give them an edge. Readers will find that Joe Hill also achieves this in The Fireman. P.S. If you love Colson Whitehead's Zone One, keep your eyes peeled for his upcoming book, The Underground Railroad. A young slave attempts to escape from the deep south on the literal underground railroad.
The Passage by Justin Cronin
I finally feel comfortable recommending The Passage by Justin Cronin because the final book in the trilogy (The City of Mirrors) just came out last month. In The Passage a military experiment goes horribly awry and escapes into the outside world. In a very short period of time, humanity faces extinction and the destruction of civilization. A small group of survivors and one special little girl are all that's standing between us and total annihilation. The Passage is incredibly large in scope, just like The Fireman, and does an amazing job at making us care about a core group of characters in a vast, well built-world.