A bouncy adventure that threatens to darken in later volumes.

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The Elderine Stone

DREAMS TO DESTINY

This YA fantasy by the author of Captain Silverspoons (2015) features a teenager who’s transported to a magical realm where dark forces gather.

Fifteen-year-old Jason Greaves lives with his Aunt Florence in Belfast, Northern Ireland. In school, he frequently daydreams about fantasy worlds filled with fabulous creatures. On the way home from school one day, he enters an enticing derelict building near Cavehill Forest Park. Inside, he falls through a pit into an elaborate, blue-lit chamber in which he finds a large gem. Handling it causes him to travel to the realm of Haspaira, populated by elves, trolls, wizards, and others. Wandering through the Elderine Forests, he encounters some elves who escort him to their home, Glen Tirel; there he meets Lord Elindril, who tells him there’s no way to send him home. Meanwhile, the wizard Aber Talathin and his teenage granddaughter, Emily, travel to Glen Tirel to discuss the rise of the Dark Lady, a sorceress from outside the realm. Prophecies indicate that a hero will turn back her spreading evil. This noble feat would make the hero beloved throughout the kingdom—which is why Prince Devon Drake insists on tackling the Dark Lady himself. Lawson rests his new YA series upon pillars that will be familiar to fans of the medieval fantasy genre, including a humorous sidekick (Sherbit the imp), a march into treacherous mountain terrain, and an all-powerful Lord of Darkness who remains deep in the background. (Also, Jason’s father is dead, his mother has vanished, and his aunt treats him resentfully.) And yet, when Elindril speaks to Jason “as though he was worthy of attention, as though he mattered,” it adds emotional thrust to Jason’s heroism. Lawson’s prose is geared toward younger readers, but a stronger edit might have helped at times (“Several woman were plotted around the room”). Occasional religious commentary, via an organization called the New Order, lends the narrative a more adult slant.

A bouncy adventure that threatens to darken in later volumes.

Pub Date: July 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5148-5102-9

Page Count: 338

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2015

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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