This book exhausted me — I couldn’t wait to find out how it ended, but I got so attached to the characters and so many (SO MANY) bad things kept happening that I had to keep giving myself little emotional breaks. Watch a cat video or two. And then I’d dive back in.
“Death and ruin is man’s preferred ecosystem. Did you ever read about the bacterium that thrives in volcanoes, right on the edge of boiling rock? That’s us. Humanity is a germ that thrives on the very edge of catastrophe.”
Basic plot: a fungus has taken over the world. At first, it causes people to first exhibit weird tattoos on their skin (thus its name, Dragonscale). Then, when these people feel strong emotions (fear, anxiety, panic, etc), they tend to…catch on fire and burn to death. The novel begins a few months into the epidemic, and stars bad ass Harper Willowes as a nurse struggling to help the infected. Until she, of course, ends up infected herself. She finds a group of people who may have found a way to beat the fungus, or at least learn to live with it. But living in this community brings just as many risks as it does rewards.
I freaking loved this book. First of all, Joe Hill has an excellent grasp of pop culture and uses it to his advantage to liven up parts of the book, and give his subjects more character. Willowes is obsessed with Mary Poppins, and references to the book and movie appear often, as do numerous others: Harry Potter, Martha Quinn, Game of Thrones, Snuffleupagus, and so on. Tons of music. Hell, he even references the Dark Tower at least twice (that I could find).
And the writing is amazing — so tense and terrifying. It reminded me a lot of The Walking Dead, where you have a group of people fighting against an outside terror (zombies, evil fungus), but the humans they live among present just as much of a threat. It’s a very, very good book and I cannot wait for more of y’all to read it!