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Literature / The Fire-Us Trilogy

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''We're still here."

The Fire-Us Trilogy is a young-adult post-apocalyptic series by Jennifer Armstrong and Nancy Butcher. The books in the series are The Kindling, The Keepers of the Flame, and The Kiln.

In the year 2002, a mysterious illness explodes through the world, spreading panic and killing adults with a horrible, incurable fever. Only children survive the initial outbreak. Most, having lost their protection and being too young to protect themselves, fall to wild animals or hunger. But in Lazarus, Florida, a small group of lucky (or not-so-lucky) children manages to find each other. They form a family, scavenging everything they need to live from the ruins of Lazarus for years, believing they are probably the last people alive.

After five years, their simple life begins to fall apart. Their town has been picked almost to the bone. Two small children suddenly appear on the streets, apparently with no one to take care of them. A teenage boy knocks on their door, saying things no one understands that may or may not be from the "before-time". He uproots the family, dragging them with him on a quest they don't understand, away from Lazarus, in a madman's search to find Washington and the enigmatic "President".


Provides Examples Of:

  • Aborted Arc: Mommy finding the car and the book never gets a real resolution.
  • All Just a Dream: Angerman suggests the kids are all imagining things in an institution and the Fire-us never happened, but there's no indication that he's right.
  • Apocalypse How: Class 2. Comes dangerously close to Class 3, since most children aren't prepared to survive in a world without adults.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Teacher has this attitude toward the things she finds in the Book.
  • Berserk Button: Separating Mommy from the younger children has disastrous results.
  • Big "NO!": Mommy's reaction to Angerman making off with some of her "babies".
  • Camp Unsafe Isn't Safe Anymore: It takes the kids a long time to decide to leave the mall. Possibly justified, as they really, really wanted it to be safe, and were intentionally ignoring everything that told them it wouldn't be to hang onto their new illusion of security for as long as possible.
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  • Companion Cube: Angerman's mannequin
  • The Charmer: Angerman, but only to the younger kids. Teacher, Hunter, Mommy, and the Crossroads folk aren't convinced and consider him crazy and dangerous.
  • Cheerful Child: Baby and Doll are upbeat and perky most of the time.
  • Cosy Catastrophe: For the Keepers of the Flame, post-apocalyptic living is pretty good.
  • Crapsack World: The plague may be Only Fatal to Adults, but the vast majority of Earth's children simply can't survive on their own.
  • Creepy Child: Angerman is the most obvious example, but Mommy and Teacher are actually just about as screwed up as he is, although it's somewhat less obvious.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Angerman
  • Death of a Child: It's explicitly stated that most of the children starved to death or got eaten by wild animals.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Mommy initially hates both Angerman and Cory. The former starts off none too fond of her, either.
  • Double Take
  • invoked Dude, Not Funny!: Angerman gets this from the other kids.
  • Dysfunction Junction: Just among the Four-Temperament Ensemble we've got a schizophrenic, an Hikikomori, and a girl who feels her life has no meaning without a special book. Then there are all the younger kids to add in to the mix, and the religious wackos, and the genocidal president who leads them.
  • Enter Stage Window: Action Figure must find doors really boring, because he never seems to use them.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Mommy, Teacher, and Hunter are all introduced performing the tasks that gave them their name.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: President seems to genuinely grieve the loss of his wife and sons.
  • Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: This is Teacher's worldview in-universe. It's her job, actually.
  • Evil Laugh: Bad Guy has one, at least in Angerman's mind.
  • The Face: Hunter is the least crazy of the kids, and so generally acts as the go-between for other non-crazies.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: If children starving and being eaten by wild animals doesn't freak you out, there's also the descriptions of the Fire-us itself. Boiling internal organs is probably not a great way to go...
  • Flashback: And as many of them are to events during the Fire-us, Troubled Backstory Flashback is also common.
  • Foreshadowing: Hunter finds a flier reading "FREE PUPPIES AND KITTENS TO GOOD HOMES" and later, the family takes in two stray children who speak only in woofs and meows.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • Sanguine: Angerman.
    • Choleric: Hunter.
    • Melancholic: Teacher.
    • Phlegmatic: Mommy.
      • Later on, you can make the case that Mommy is the Supine, with Cory being Phlegmatic II.
  • Freudian Trio: Mommy is the emotion of the Id, Teacher provides the Superego's pragmatism, and Hunter holds it all together as the Ego.
  • Funetik Aksent: All of the children from time to time, but Action Figure speaks almost exclusively in this manner.
  • G-Rated Mental Illness: Averted. It may be a young-adult series, but Angerman's fits are extremely disturbing.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: The Book.
  • Hearing Voices: Angerman is absolutely convinced Bad Guy talks to him, among other things.
  • Hikikomori: Mommy.
  • A House Divided: Angerman causes this in the first book, nearly splitting up the family.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: Luckily not onscreen, but it's suggested as one of the ways orphaned children tried to feed themselves.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: When half the cast is young, starving, and really freaking crazy, you get a lot of this.
  • The Insomniac: Teacher very often forgoes sleeping to spend all night writing in the Book.
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Mommy asks to be left behind part of the way through the trip in the first book, as her Hikikomori-ness makes transporting her a huge problem.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Teacher can remember the name of the song she played at an elementary school piano recital but not her own name because...just because. The other kids are the same way.
  • The Last Man Heard a Knock...: The children suspect they are the last humans left. This is not true.
  • The Load: Mommy's crippling fear of being outside turns her into a liability early on, although she improves.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The President to Angerman; Cory's sister to Puppy and Kitty.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: President believed his wife and sons to be dead. Angerman lets him know this is not the case, eventually.
  • Next Sunday A.D.: The series begins in 2007, five years after the release date of the first book.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted.
  • Only Fatal to Adults: The bomb employed by the president.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Most of the character fall under this trope, though some—such as Teacher, Mommy and Hunter—fall under Everybody Calls Him "Barkeep".
    • Hunter is Zig-Zagged. He believes his name in the Before Time was also Hunter. Angerman is not sure.
  • Only One Name: The kids go by single names they chose for themselves. The Keepers of the Flame also do this, although they are named after Bible verses.
  • Painting the Medium: Clippings from the Book are in different fonts and font sizes than the main text.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Keepers of the Flame are pleasant, caring...and want to burn all children born since the Fire-us for the sake of finding the new Messiah.
  • Promotion to Parent: All of the older children.
  • Scenery Gorn: The covers.
  • Scenery Porn: When we're not meant to see Florida as nightmarish, the narrative goes on many small binges describing the flora and fauna.
  • Ship Sinking: Mommy and Hunter get set up romantic interests, but their relationship takes a beating after The Talk. There's some implication they may be on the mend by the end, though.
  • Shout-Out: Jennifer Armstrong's first book dedication is to Anne Ginkel. Later on, a book belonging to an "Annie Ginkel" is found. As the book might have been Mommy's in the Before Time, it may also be a case of Write Who You Know.
  • Social Services Does Not Exist: Justified. Not much does, anymore.
  • Survival Mantra: Teddy Bear chanting "I don't see no gators, no sir, no gators."
  • Stupid Sacrifice: Cory releasing the virus and therefore ensuring her death and that of President, when Teacher could have done it without dying.
  • The Talk: The kids get this in the second book. The audience is spared, mostly.
  • Team Mom: Mommy. Obviously.
  • Teenage Wasteland: Type 2. Deconstructed in that most of the surviving children end up dying of starvation/disease/wild animals without adults to take care of them.
  • There Are No Adults: Subverted. There are, but the vast majority of them are dead.
  • There Are No Therapists: For good reason.
  • Three Plus Two: The Teacher-Hunter-Mommy Power Trio eventually collects Angerman and Cory.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: One of the many disagreeable effects of forcing Mommy to go outside.
  • True Companions: The family are deeply loyal to each other.
  • 20 Minutes into the Future: Or rather, five years.
  • Two Girls and a Guy: Teacher, Mommy, and Hunter have this dynamic at the beginning of the series since they are essentially in charge of keeping everyone alive, despite the four other people they live with.
  • Word Salad Philosophy: 90% of the Book's content.