Next book

THE ASTRONOMER

An engrossing tale that explores the vicissitudes of an unusual mind.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

In Biswas’ novel, a renowned astronomer suffering from epileptic seizures comes to believe that he can travel through interstellar space and commune with gods.

Peoria, Illinois, native Franz Herbert began to have out-of-body experiences in 1921, when he was 15 years old, and also heard disembodied voices; when he was 20, he was diagnosed with epilepsy. Over decades, he experienced his petite mal seizures as metaphysical opportunities to depart the Earth and explore the far reaches of space; during these experiences, he met the ancient gods who preside over the universe, and he came to believe that he was ancestrally descended from the “celestial beings who govern the cosmos.” He became famous as an astronomer for discovering Pluto in 1930 at the age of 24 (a nod to real-life astronomer Clyde Tombaugh), but his colleagues and his wife, Isabella, believed that he was mentally ill; Isabella eventually ran off with one of his co-workers. Over the course of this novel, Biswas provocatively raises questions about what separates creative genius and insanity—a question that even Herbert astutely raises: “I no longer knew what side of that line I was on. And that I did not care.” The book is presented as a series of diary entries written by Herbert, who, in the early ’70s, simply vanished without a trace; there’s also commentary by his psychologist, Dr. Joseph Arnold, and friend Martin Pasqual, a professor of literature, and their exceedingly sober cogitations provide a compelling foil to Franz’s more extravagant claims. Biswas’ writing is remarkably expansive throughout, and readers will find it deeply impressive how he captures two distinct voices: one of prosaic reason and another of disordered brilliance. Overall, it’s a fantastically strange novel that’s as grippingly eccentric as the protagonist at its center.

An engrossing tale that explores the vicissitudes of an unusual mind.

Pub Date: March 8, 2023

ISBN: 9781952600319

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Whiskey Tit

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 59


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 59


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 143


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

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
  • 143


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

Close Quickview