The Other Son

In this compelling debut sci-fi pastiche of existential crises, millennia-old religious prophecies and modern-day fanaticism, the supernatural aspirations of a Muslim scientist collide with the modest, earthly aims of a secular American couple.

When the empires of reason and faith collide, the authority of each is called into question. Sean and Maddy begin to build a life together in New York City, but their endeavor is complicated by Maddy’s choice, prior to meeting Sean, to become pregnant via artificial insemination. Unbeknownst to her, however, the child she carries—Victor, whose destiny the second half of the novel traces—is a beacon of paradigm-shifting research: not just a clone, but the human clone of Jesus Christ, whose DNA was salvaged from Christian relics by the brilliant but unstable Dr. Khodadad Jal. Raised a faithful Muslim, Jal is tormented by the dilemma posed by the confrontation of religion and science. His destructive answer to the fate of mankind—he wants to create an apocalypse—calls him to study advanced embryology and to seek out (and deceive) rich donors. After securing Victor’s birth and surviving a murder attempt by a crazed colleague, Jal envisions the realization of his grand scheme with a nuclear holocaust, a manufactured apocalypse led by Victor, the supposed second coming of Christ. Masterfully told from its benign beginnings to its tragic end in a Jerusalem cemetery, this novel charts the intersection of men and women made anxious by the question of life’s purpose and its seemingly paltry answers. Fantastic in its arc, the story nonetheless roots itself in moments of genuine psychological discord, revealing itself via anachronistic chapters that flit between past and future. This is a fable of sorts for the modern world, spanning the events of 9/11 and the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict as well as the doctrines of Hegelian philosophy and Islamic theology. A study in the ethical limits of science, the novel also traces the blurry line that divides sanity from insanity, as Jal’s views degenerate from philosophically reasoned convictions to sadism and self-delusion.

A confident mix of high-minded intellectual arguments and fast-paced fiction.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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

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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

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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