The Phantom Firefighter

First Responder

Children - Preteen
192 Pages
Reviewed on 09/22/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Courtnee Turner Hoyle for Readers' Favorite

The Phantom Firefighter: First Responder is a middle-grade novel by J.W. Jarvis. Noah loves video games and spending time with his father. After eating out one night, Noah and his father stumble across a bookstore they hadn’t noticed previously. Noah selects a children’s book with an unconventional cover, and he and his father read it at home. As their interest in the story grows, they find themselves mentally and physically immersed in the world of Zach, a firefighter whose adventures lead him into dangerous situations. Noah assumes Zach’s role and his father is a phantom who watches over him. Noah and his father think that their experience is a dream, but Noah finds evidence that Zach and his team are real, and the decisions made in the book seem to affect the outcomes of the incidents. When Noah shares the book with a friend at school, an unexpected turn of events causes a critical situation.

J.W. Jarvis has a knack for providing intellectually stimulating facts throughout this work. From Australian phrases to the degree of detail in his rescue scenes, it’s apparent that the author either drew on his wealth of knowledge or researched the subject extensively. Readers will be engrossed in this magically realistic story as they move along with the fast-paced plot, and the end leaves room for a sequel. With themes of friendship, family, bullying, tenacity, altruism, and humor, The Phantom Firefighter is a book readers won’t want to put down. Even though the protagonist is a preteen, the story would appeal to young adults and more mature audiences as well. Jarvis donates three percent of this book's sales to the First Responders Children’s Foundation, which provides funding for children whose parents are first responders who died while on duty.

Pikasho Deka

The Phantom Firefighter is a young reader's paranormal mystery novel by J.W. Jarvis. His parents' divorce hasn't been easy on Noah. But after coming across a seemingly innocuous book at a store, Noah's life turns upside down. After he begins reading the book with his father, Noah finds himself transported into the body of a firefighter named Zach, who bravely risks his life to rescue people from life-threatening situations. When Noah shows the book to his newfound friend Dani, they both have the same experience, with Dani now embodying Captain Zach while Noah inhabits his colleague's body. However, one of their school bullies unwittingly accompanies the two in his spirit form. Noah and Dani soon realize that what they are experiencing are actual events of the past that have consequences in the present. Who is the mysterious phantom behind it all?

J.W. Jarvis' opening installment of the First Responder series is an absolute gem for young readers who savor anything paranormal. Jam-packed with mystery, suspense, and intrigue, The Phantom Firefighter breezes past without a single hitch, and you don't want to put the book down before finishing it. There is no fat or fluff in the narrative, and Jarvis maintains a nice pace to the plot that keeps you engaged all the way through. The characters feel like kids in real life. Noah is a kid trying to find someone to bond with, and Dani is the perfect friend who shares his interests. I also loved the sleuth elements of the story when the two began to explore the mystery behind the book and its origins together. I would recommend this book to preteens and even young adolescents.

Essien Asian

Noah is still struggling to get over his parents' divorce. Despite moving to a new town and the possibility of making a new set of friends at school, he still wishes his parents could settle their differences and get back together. His father senses this and does his best to bond with the young boy. It is during one of their bonding trips that they come across an unusual bookstore and its peculiar owner who loans Noah a book to pass the time. Noah does not realize it but he is about to discover why one should not judge a book by its cover in J.W. Jarvis's The Phantom Firefighter (First Responder).

A young boy is thrown into the middle of an unusual adventure in The Phantom Firefighter (First Responder) by J.W. Jarvis. The setting for this story feels quite natural as the author uses the despair and negativity created in many homes by the pandemic as a realistic template for the beginning of the adventure. His characters are conventional but though they may initially seem ordinary, Jarvis goes the extra mile to include aspects of their origin stories that the reader can grasp and identify their motivations. The conversations between Noah and Dani are interesting to follow as Jarvis uses intentional gaps in their flow to create a growing aura of mystery in the story. Noah's urge for his parents to reconcile is so strong it is almost impossible not to feel his pain. Jarvis uses beautiful elements of mystery and suspense to craft a story that will appeal to the spirit of adventure in young readers.