UPGRADE

Recommended—even for reluctant science fiction readers.

When a government agent is exposed to a virus that modifies his genetic code, he must consider whether to share these enhancements with the world or eradicate the virus.

Logan Ramsay works for the Gene Protection Agency in a world where genetic modification has wreaked havoc on the ecosystem. His mother, a brilliant scientist, was responsible for the “Great Starvation” nearly two decades before, when she tried to improve the resistance of a rice plant to a particular virus and instead devastated the world’s rice supply. Two hundred million people died, and Logan went to prison for his role in the catastrophe; his mother took her own life. Now he investigates and takes down people who are running “dark gene lab[s]” and otherwise seeking to change the human genome. During a raid, Logan is exposed to a virus, and while the initial side effects seem to ease after a few days, he soon begins to notice unusual things: the fact that he can read incredibly complex books in just a few hours and retain all of the information; the fact that he can beat his daughter in chess, which hasn’t happened for years; the way he can remember every moment of his life in perfect detail. Government agents lock him up and run test after test as Logan becomes stronger and more intelligent by the day. It is revealed that, before her death, Logan’s mother promised to release “a viral gene drive” that would offer a “significant upgrade” to the human species. When someone arrives to break him out of the containment facility, Logan will be forced to make a decision: allow the genetic upgrade to spread through the human species, even though a certain percentage of the population will die horrible deaths, or destroy the virus. High-octane action, some moral complexity, and a surprisingly emotional ending elevate this novel.

Recommended—even for reluctant science fiction readers.

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-15753-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: April 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 126


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 126


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power.

In the beginning, Darrow, the narrator, works in the mines on Mars, a life of drudgery and subservience. He’s a member of the Reds, an “inferior” class, though he’s happily married to Eo, an incipient rebel who wants to overthrow the existing social order, especially the Golds, who treat the lower-ranking orders cruelly. When Eo leads him to a mildly rebellious act, she’s caught and executed, and Darrow decides to exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this outrage. He’s recruited by a rebel cell and “becomes” a Gold by having painful surgery—he has golden wings grafted on his back—and taking an exam to launch himself into the academy that educates the ruling elite. Although he successfully infiltrates the Golds, he finds the social order is a cruel and confusing mash-up of deception and intrigue. Eventually, he leads one of the “houses” in war games that are all too real and becomes a guerrilla warrior leading a ragtag band of rebelliously minded men and women. Although it takes a while, the reader eventually gets used to the specialized vocabulary of this world, where warriors shoot “pulseFists” and are protected by “recoilArmor.” As with many similar worlds, the warrior culture depicted here has a primitive, even classical, feel to it, especially since the warriors sport names such as Augustus, Cassius, Apollo and Mercury.

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53978-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

Close Quickview