Breezy, space-based fun with well-executed character development.

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SPACE THRONE

In Corley’s SF novel, an alien prince is finally ready to assume his throne after abandoning his responsibility years before.

Prince Parrtec was once the heir to the intergalactic kingdom known as the Twelve but decided to fake his death and walk away from everything he knew in exchange for a wandering life of fun and freedom. Now he goes by the name Parr, living on his beloved ship, the Aurora, which is reputed to be one of the fastest ships in existence. He mingles with all sorts of people, including pirates and other criminals in “the outer reaches.” But now he feels that it’s time to go back and take his rightful place after his parents’ deaths—if he can get through the well-defended gates of his home system of Bilena Epso Ach. A business opportunity goes awry that could have helped him do so, and he finds himself banned for life from entering the gates. Parr needs a new plan, but he has no more funds, and with the galaxy’s most feared bounty hunter hot on his trail for reasons unknown, Parr will need all the help he can get—even if it means siding with Manc, an old pirate with shady motives, and Ren, a secretive and alluring figure. Will Parr ever make it back home—and if he does, will the new queen, his sister, welcome him back? Politics and romance intertwine in this fun space adventure that follows Parr around the galaxy as he ostensibly tries to make his way back to his throne. However, readers will find that Parr’s journey turns out to be one of personal transformation and self-discovery. Over the course of the novel, he loses his initial obliviousness and gains a deeper understanding of what it truly means to be the heir of a privileged family—who may, in fact, be tyrants. Corley, the author of Ghost Bully (2018), also effectively develops the story to show how Parr learns to trust people other than himself during his travels. Sadly, the protagonist’s tale ends too soon, but it offers an open ending that promises more adventures.

Breezy, space-based fun with well-executed character development.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Electric Fern

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2020

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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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