A unique, if uneven, version of a holiday fixture.

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation

Writer’s (Tragic Wonders, 2013, etc.) novella reimagines Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a cautionary sci-fi tale.

In this 21st century recasting of the classic story, E. Ben Ezer fills the role of the iconic Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s a callous businessman in the not-too-distant future, who, in his quest for wealth, has replaced almost his entire staff with a sophisticated autonomous computer network. Ezer’s greed extends far beyond mere wealth, however; he’s looking to transcend his current position and become something of a godlike figure. While working late one night, Ezer confronts the image of his former business partner emanating from his computer screen. Unfazed, Ezer decides to try out his company’s experimental virtual reality suit, and the apparition soon leads him through his past, present and future. Writer’s version of Dickens’ tale doesn’t stray too far from the original’s framework; versions of all of Dickens’ characters are present, and the moral remains fundamentally the same, although expanded to encompass concerns regarding artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Writer’s Carol is noticeably darker, though: His version of Ebenezer goes beyond a mere greedy curmudgeon to a man who’s capable of consciously corrupting the worldwide economy. Furthermore, the apparition (or “the entity,” as Writer refers to it) shows Ezer a distressing future in which his creations have systematically destroyed all of humanity. Aside from this tonal shift, the most significant change is the story’s resolution, which far exceeds a simple change of heart. Writer’s interpretation is an intriguing retelling, as it does much more than merely change the classic tale’s setting and style. Unfortunately, its brevity and its adherence to the original’s classic structure inhibit Writer from fully exploring his notions, and the prose often falls flat. Vivid images sometimes appear, as when Ezer imagines the flickers of computer screens casting “agonized shadows around the room [that] continued their accusatory dance”; more often, however, the narration feels stilted and overwrought (“Through the Word the Great Physician cleared out from his heart and mind, futile thoughts, errant goals and abusive attitudes”). The result is a sometimes strange mixture of paranoid sci-fi and traditional religious morality.

A unique, if uneven, version of a holiday fixture.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 40

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 34

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

Did you like this book?

more