A fast-paced, light read likely to appeal to fans of the walking dead and post-apocalyptic action thrillers.

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Molters

Gleason (Ravagers, 2016, etc.) splices together adventure, horror, and a threat to the survival of humanity in this novel.

Jonah is a former soldier and somewhat recovered drug addict. He convinces a group of cohorts, including his best friend, Eric, and ex-wife, Sharon, to accompany him on a vacation to his old Army stomping grounds in Germany. All told, there are six of them. That doesn’t last long, because while they may have come in search of fun, something horrific finds them instead. They’re called molters, and they infect and use human hosts to reproduce. Jonah’s Army training is the best chance the band has at surviving (“Jonah could feel his friends crumbling. He knew to expect childlike behavior from them....People were unpredictable in a time of crisis. Jonah knew he had to stay strong for everyone, no matter what”). But the molters have already decimated an entire military base, the same one Jonah had been stationed at years before and the place the group decides to seek shelter in, hoping it is safe. The problem is, as far as anyone knows, the molters could be everywhere, and safety might be a distant dream for all of humanity. Indeed, the new reality might just be a nightmare. The horror elements of the narrative are decidedly prominent, incorporating moments of terror, suspense, and the unknown. But the action-thriller aspects are stronger. The molters are scary, but they can be fought and, sometimes, gruesomely killed. Overall, the story proceeds in a highly cinematic manner, with short scenes within larger chapters. And as with a horror movie, it doesn’t pay to get too attached to any of the characters, since they’re all targets. Perhaps because of this, none of the players (with the possible exception of Jonah) come across as terribly well-developed. The sketchy plot, too, often seems to take a back seat to action sequences. These sequences, however, do exactly what they need to. They’re well-written, engrossing, and pack plenty of verisimilitude. For some readers, that may be enough. The molters aren’t zombies, but they still should please aficionados.

A fast-paced, light read likely to appeal to fans of the walking dead and post-apocalyptic action thrillers.

Pub Date: April 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5302-7125-2

Page Count: 188

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

THE AUTHENTICITY PROJECT

A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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