Skewed to the younger end of the YA-fantasy spectrum, the author’s adroit style maintains a buoyant tone even with...

STANLIN & SYLVIA

Stanlin, a friendly space alien drawn to a kindly human girl, defies his planet’s nonintervention policy and reveals himself to her when an incipient epidemic endangers all life on Earth.

Debut author Hey’s smooth, light-treading prose makes a fast read out of material that other writers could have been tempted to render as fashionably dark, even nightmarish. Though he looks like a bald, big-eyed Whitley Strieber-esque space invader, Stanlin is a student-age member of a friendly alien race from the planet Capton in the Andromeda Galaxy. They routinely visit and monitor other worlds, teleporting by thought (no flying saucers here) and then shape-shifting or remaining invisible in accordance with Capton’s strict nonintervention policy for less developed civilizations. Knowing Earth from his field trips, Stanlin is especially smitten with Sylvia, a junior high schooler. However, soon the aliens learn that a disease tied to animal influenza could effectively wipe out all terrestrial life. One potential disease-carrier is a youthful serial killer named Ned, convinced ever since a childhood brain trauma that he’s on a mission from a vengeful God to cleanse the world. (Stanlin’s people, meanwhile, respect God as a warm, nondenominational “Highest Authority.”) Stanlin reveals himself to Sylvia, using advanced technology to peer into future possibilities, and they try to thwart the coming catastrophe by initiating a grass-roots animal-welfare program. While the material may seem a bit childish to older tweens and readers who have graduated to the gothic gloom of lovesick teenage vampires, Hey’s voice remains consistently breezy, nontaxing and up-tempo—whether the matter is cute puppies or extinction-level murder. Even a subplot about a vengeful drug criminal plotting infanticide doesn’t take the cheery tone down too many notches. Stanlin and his kin (with their favorite exclamation, “Superbly super!”) are similar to past, lightweight extraterrestrials of popular fiction who interacted with Fred Flintstone or Archie and Jughead.

Skewed to the younger end of the YA-fantasy spectrum, the author’s adroit style maintains a buoyant tone even with apocalypse on the horizon.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-1477420904

Page Count: 314

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 29, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 13

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

PROJECT HAIL MARY

Weir’s latest is a page-turning interstellar thrill ride that follows a junior high school teacher–turned–reluctant astronaut at the center of a desperate mission to save humankind from a looming extinction event.

Ryland Grace was a once-promising molecular biologist who wrote a controversial academic paper contesting the assumption that life requires liquid water. Now disgraced, he works as a junior high science teacher in San Francisco. His previous theories, however, make him the perfect researcher for a multinational task force that's trying to understand how and why the sun is suddenly dimming at an alarming rate. A barely detectable line of light that rises from the sun’s north pole and curves toward Venus is inexplicably draining the star of power. According to scientists, an “instant ice age” is all but inevitable within a few decades. All the other stars in proximity to the sun seem to be suffering with the same affliction—except Tau Ceti. An unwilling last-minute replacement as part of a three-person mission heading to Tau Ceti in hopes of finding an answer, Ryland finds himself awakening from an induced coma on the spaceship with two dead crewmates and a spotty memory. With time running out for humankind, he discovers an alien spacecraft in the vicinity of his ship with a strange traveler on a similar quest. Although hard scientific speculation fuels the storyline, the real power lies in the many jaw-dropping plot twists, the relentless tension, and the extraordinary dynamic between Ryland and the alien (whom he nicknames Rocky because of its carapace of oxidized minerals and metallic alloy bones). Readers may find themselves consuming this emotionally intense and thematically profound novel in one stay-up-all-night-until-your-eyes-bleed sitting.

An unforgettable story of survival and the power of friendship—nothing short of a science-fiction masterwork.

Pub Date: May 4, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-13520-4

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

more