by Christina Sweeney-Baird ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 27, 2021
Sweeney-Baird’s dystopian debut novel, begun in 2018, is unsettlingly prescient.
Beginning in 2025, a Great Male Plague spreads around the world.
The novels opens in London on a deceptively breezy note as Catherine, a social anthropologist with a happy marriage and adorable 3-year-old son, avoids fertility treatment because she’s ambivalent about having a second child. Big mistake. Five days later, on “Day 1,” a man dies for no clear reason in a Glasgow hospital. After a second man dies there two days later and more fall ill, attending physician Amanda, a wife and mother of two sons herself, senses approaching disaster. She contacts recently independent Scotland's public health officials, who dismiss her concerns. By Day 5, “the Plague,” though still limited to Scotland, “is all anybody can talk about” in London. And so the Plague spreads, day by numbered day within eight sections designating stages from OUTBREAK to PANIC to ADAPTATION to REMEMBRANCE. Although women may be carriers, only males (of all ages) get sick, almost always fatally. Survivors, i.e., women, experience what survivors today have been experiencing—loss, isolation, fear, guilt, physical damage, financial crises, and, occasionally, good fortune. Catherine and Amanda, who lose the men and boys in their lives early, remain central as they reconstruct their lives. But British author Sweeney-Baird swings her focus among an ever widening swathe of characters—wealthy, working class, urban, rural, White, Black, Asian, straight, LGBTQ+, British, American, Canadian, Filipino—as if afraid to leave any social subgroup out. Shallow character development is inevitable. But a captivating standout is the portrayal of brilliant gay Canadian scientist Lisa, a villainous, much-hated savior who uses the Plague as her steppingstone to wealth and fame. Meanwhile, the loss of most of the world’s male population and the ways governments react to the Plague raise complicated ethical issues. This may be just the novel you want to read right now—or the last thing you'd want to pick up.Sweeney-Baird’s dystopian debut novel, begun in 2018, is unsettlingly prescient.
Pub Date: April 27, 2021
Page Count: 416
Review Posted Online: March 2, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by Michael Connelly ‧ RELEASE DATE: Nov. 7, 2023
The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Harry Bosch and the Lincoln Lawyer team up to exonerate a woman who’s already served five years for killing her ex-husband.
The evidence against Lucinda Sanz was so overwhelming that she followed the advice of Frank Silver, the B-grade attorney who’d elbowed his way onto her defense, and pleaded no contest to manslaughter to avoid a life sentence for shooting Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Roberto Sanz in the back as he stalked out of her yard after their latest argument. But now that her son, Eric, is 13, old enough to get recruited by local gangs, she wants to be out of stir and at his side. So she writes to Mickey Haller, who asks his half-brother for help. After all his years working for the LAPD, Bosch is adamant about not working for a criminal defendant, even though Haller’s already taken him on as an associate so that he can get access to private health insurance and a UCLA medical trial for an experimental cancer treatment. But the habeas corpus hearing Haller’s aiming for isn’t, strictly speaking, a criminal defense proceeding, and even a cursory examination of the forensic evidence raises Bosch’s hackles. Bolstered by Bosch’s discoveries and a state-of-the-art digital reconstruction of the shooting, Haller heads to court to face Assistant Attorney General Hayden Morris, who has a few tricks up his own sleeve. The endlessly resourceful courtroom back-and-forth is furious in its intensity, although Haller eventually upstages Bosch, Morris, and everyone else in sight. What really stands out here, however, is that Connelly never lets you forget, from his title onward, the life-or-death issues behind every move in the game.The most richly accomplished of the brothers’ pairings to date—and given Connelly’s high standards, that’s saying a lot.
Pub Date: Nov. 7, 2023
Page Count: 400
Publisher: Little, Brown
Review Posted Online: Sept. 21, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2023
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