Next book

[NSFW]

A potential cult classic that all but demands a second read.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

A group of content moderators explore their humanity in this near-future, SF love story.

After a traumatic event, a Chicago, Illinois, man whose digital handle is @Sa>ag3 begins work at Vexillum Co. His job is to flag offensive video content in a “war on savagery.” He, along with other trainees, like @Jun1p3r, must work for 90 days as subcontractors for the enigmatic ƒace before they can acquire a good wage and health care. With a daily grind that involves viewing horrendous images like terrorist bombings and school shootings, @Sa>ag3 and @Jun1p3r immediately start using the office lactorium—reserved for breastfeeding—as a sex cubicle. Soon, co-worker @Skiny_Leny becomes their source for Xanax. When fresh hires arrive, including @Babyd011, they join the free-loving culture. Their boss, Mr. Ray Gunn, encourages everyone to do what they must to meet the team’s impossibly high “accuracy number” goal. A substantial bonus has been promised if they can. Meanwhile, @Sa>ag3 and @Jun1p3r become “savages” and delete their social media accounts. They bring numerous plants and soil into their apartment. They also keep a jellyfish in a tank, though it requires a lot of maintenance. When the office team does earn a bonus, it comes in the form of a sleek new phone (called a ƒŌne) that doesn’t require a typical battery. Launched by ƒace, this ƒŌne is powered by the human touch. @Sa>ag3’s commitment to an earthy individuality has won him the respect of Mr. Gunn and a new position of power. However, he must now navigate a violent world radically altered by the ƒŌne.

Hay’s latest throws a permanent Gen X scowl at technologically dependent modern life. Embedded in his prose are lyrics by the band Rush (“conform or be cast out”), old slogans (“BE_KIND_REWIND”), and many references to director Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre. While this creates a lexicon that canny readers will adapt to, akin to Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange (1962), current motifs pulse just as brightly, like the opening list of trigger warnings that includes drug use, witchcraft, social media, and capitalism. Hay’s tonal mimicry of Fight Club (1996) author Chuck Palahniuk is astonishing. Those unfamiliar with the flat, declarative sarcasm of the 1990s can use this piece as a how-to pamphlet. Yet there’s truth in Hay’s best bons mots, such as, “The luxury of a worldview diminishes because it’s time to cook supper.” And because “Outrage trumps a like,” readers who clutch their worldviews too tightly will find something here to be upset by: the Columbine shooting, adults breastfeeding, and a sitcom about Middle Eastern terrorists assigned to destroy Mount Rushmore. When Hay writes, “People on the train stare looking up from the glow of their devices. Their faces illuminated like trophy mounts of a big game hunter,” it’s easy to proclaim digital detox as the narrative’s goal. But the burgeoning love between two protagonists for whom sex is easier than conversation is the true resonating center. @Sa>ag3’s journey inserts a wild-eyed freshness in the prospect of life in the 21st century.

A potential cult classic that all but demands a second read.

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2023

ISBN: 9781952600265

Page Count: 316

Publisher: Whisk(e)y Tit

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 117


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
  • 117


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
  • 165


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
  • 165


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