THE APOCALYPSE TROLL

New science fiction shoot-’em-up from the author of Echoes of Honor (p. 1076), etc. By the 25th century, humanity is finally winning its long war with the xenophobic Kangas. But then a human Battle Division intercepts a Kanga fleet traveling backwards in time, clearly intending to destroy Earth in the past! After a terrible struggle, only two ships survive to reach the year 2007: one contains a Troll(a Kanga cyborg with an enslaved, insane human brain)and BatDiv’s Colonel Ludmilla “Milla” Leonovna, whom the Troll thinks it’s killed. Lone sailor and US Navy Captain Richard Aston witnesses a battle involving nukes and UFOs high above the Atlantic, and he rescues what appears to be a dying Milla from her stricken ship. But Milla heals rapidly—though she looks like a girl, she’s actually immortal, thanks to the symbiont, deadly to nearly everyone else, in her blood—all of which she soon explains. Aston believes her story and sails into the US Navy base at Holy Loch, Scotland. But is there anyone else they should consult? Problem: the Troll is telepathic and can listen in on susceptible people. So, Aston and Milla must select their allies very carefully. Meanwhile, the Troll, having decided to enslave humanity, heads for the States to recruit an army of zombie slaves. A grim fight ensues; finally the Troll is killed and its ship captured, but Aston is mortally wounded, leading Milla to give him a blood transfusion; luckily, he survives, in the process becoming immortal too! Now humanity will have time to study the Troll ship and prepare for the Kanga invasion that, in Milla’s home universe, started the whole business. Moves along at a good clip, with lots of simple explanations, spiffy hardware, military acronyms, and whiz-bangs. Perhaps its teenaged target audience won’t care about Weber’s wretched attempts to compose female characters.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-57782-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Baen

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1998

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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 love letter to the power of books and friendship.

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THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

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