Readers should seek out less pretentious and more original X-Men fanfic online instead.

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THE NOBODY PEOPLE

Proehl (A Hundred Thousand Worlds, 2016, etc.) returns with a literary science fiction novel.

Someone really needs to introduce Proehl to the concept of fan fiction, as all his books to date fall firmly into that realm. His first novel was RPF—real person fiction—about the two stars of TV’s The X-Files. Names and details were changed, but virtually any reader could see that the premise was “What if Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny got married and had a baby?” This second novel, is, well, an X-Men AU—or alternate universe fanfic—which asks: What if the X-Men was literary fiction? Names and details are altered again, but the story is one most readers will know—and one that Proehl must already know himself. Avi realizes his daughter, Emmeline, is more than just precocious—she has abilities beyond his understanding. She attracts the attention of other superpowered people, and soon she’s taken to a special school where she will learn to control what she can do. They call themselves Resonants, and eventually they reveal themselves to the world, but the public quickly fears and despises them for what they are. (There’s also one Resonant who uses his powers for evil and destruction, because of course there is.) The government soon turns against the Resonants, one particularly odious senator pushes to create a registry, and some Resonants are put into government camps. At nearly 500 pages in length, the story suffocates any action with burdensome, put-on prose, culminating in a not-very-satisfying climax and ending. Indeed, at times the entire book feels as if it’s been run through a writing residency algorithm: “He looks up at her, face cherubic with subcutaneous fat and an acceptance of oncoming death.” Or when Fahima, a queer Muslim woman who can effortlessly comprehend mechanical objects and even control them with her mind, can also sense the feelings of appliances: “The aging fridge understood that there was no rest coming for it and wanted only to die.” You and me both, fridge.

Readers should seek out less pretentious and more original X-Men fanfic online instead.

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-9895-6

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: June 17, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2019

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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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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