A top-notch mix of action, adventure and romance with a generous helping of literary allusion.

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Divided against Yourselves

An action-packed tale of reincarnated Arthurian characters living as teenagers.

In an engaging sequel to Hiatt’s (Living with Your Past Selves, 2012) rollicking debut, this tale tells of young Taliesin Weaver, who suddenly becomes aware of dozens of his past lives and his accompanying magical powers. The evil Morgan LeFay is back and searching for her sorceress sister, Alcina, who’s trying to lay claim to the body of Carla, a young girl in a coma. Of course, Tal and his allies would rather see their friend Carla remain in control of her own body. Thus begins an epic battle, with fighting in California, the mystical land of Annwn and a previously undiscovered land. There are dragons, faerie archers, hostile marine life, animated foliage, shifting alliances, unexpected betrayals, even a ghost. It turns out that Tal’s friend Stan is the reincarnation of a powerful, unexpected historical figure. And as if adolescent romance weren’t already difficult enough, a potent love spell cast on Tal is virtually impossible to break. Hiatt also adds a wonderfully appealing new sidekick for Tal and his allies: a prepubescent boy with supernatural powers explained in the Quran. Despite all the action and the superhuman characters, the story never loses sight of the human element; scenes between Tal and his mother, who is beginning to develop magic powers of her own, are particularly poignant, as is a love triangle reminiscent of the original tales of Camelot. The minor editing errors that plagued the first book are again present, but the overall quality is there, helped by the type of sparkling humor that enlivened Hiatt’s first book: “Anyway, after what seemed like an eternity—or at least, like an algebra class”; “The tone was vaguely disquieting and more than a little sexual. Great! What was it that made me so attractive to homicidal spell casters?” Readers need not have tackled the first book to follow the storyline here, though there’s no reason to forgo the pleasure, as the series seems to be living up to its early promise.

A top-notch mix of action, adventure and romance with a generous helping of literary allusion.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2013

ISBN: 978-1494269494

Page Count: 312

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 14, 2014

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

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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A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS

A curious scientist stumbles on mysterious ruins in the opening chapters of this science fiction epic.

Things are really turning around for Kira Navárez. A xenobiologist, she’s finishing up a stint doing research on the large moon Adrasteia with a small team of other scientists, and her boyfriend, Alan, has just proposed to her. Instead of continuing to spend months apart, working on different planets and waiting until they can be together, they'll be able to ask their employers to make them part of a colony as a couple. As Kira performs a few routine last-minute checks before their team leaves the system, something strange catches her eye. She decides to check it out, just to be thorough, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient structure. When her curiosity gets the better of her and she touches a pedestal covered in dust, a bizarre black material flows out and covers her entire body. She passes out as she's being rescued by her team, and when she comes to, she seems to be fine, and the team reports her findings to the government. But soon a kind of strange, alien suit takes over her body, covering her with black material that lashes out violently against Alan and the other scientists, forming spikes that jump out from her skin. A military ship comes to collect what's left of the team and investigate the reports of an alien discovery. When an alien species attacks the ship, presumably because of Kira’s discovery, Kira will have to learn to harness the suit’s strange powers to defend herself and the rest of the human race. Paolini, best known for the YA epic fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle, makes his adult debut in another genre that welcomes long page counts. This one clocks in at close to 900 pages, but the rollicking pace, rapidly developing stakes, and Paolini’s confident worldbuilding make them fly by. Perhaps not the most impressive prose, but a worthwhile adventure story.

A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76284-9

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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