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AND YOU THE READER ARE THE UNIVERSE

A whimsical, thought-provoking, if sometimes opaque, look at the magic of existence.

An experimental novel loosely explores consciousness and existence.

It is September 2022. The narrator of this brief, swirling tale is registering to audit classes at Princeton University. The audience is soon addressed directly. Readers will travel “upon every verb” that Clovis writes. And so connections are examined in a series of short chapters that are often no more than a paragraph or two. For instance, Chapter 14 declares that “story, myth and metaphor connect US in the quantum universe at the speed of light.” Myth is a thread that binds all that humans know: “From the ancient pyramids to space sciences of NASA there is the connection of myth.” Other themes that are weaved into the work include references to Albert Einstein. Chapter 24 reminds readers that Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics on Nov. 9, 1922. Then there are reflections on the oddities of quantum physics. Chapter 29 explains that the unseen energy in the quantum field is the Divine. Love is also important. It is love that is “the only reality that lies in the heart of creation.” The work concludes with a series of appendices. These portions, like the chapters of the book, are kept short. The appendices continue to investigate topics such as synchronicity, the concept that “mental and physical events are interrelated.” It is an idea that goes back to Jung, whose work mimics “aspects of Einstein’s theory of relativity.”

Even with all the diverse musings (and a list of references), the work comes in at under 50 pages. The chapters move from topic to topic without constraints. With such a cursory treatment of complex subjects, much is left open to interpretation. The audience may not have typically linked myth, NASA, and the labors of Einstein together, yet here they are. Readers are indeed set to travel upon the verbs of the writer. The journey certainly goes to places they might not expect. Yet some subjects can prove more puzzling than revelatory. Something may receive a brief mention once and then never again. Chapter 19 consists of how someone named Charlie Somma has spent a decade at Princeton, where “horticulture meets living landscapes.” The entire chapter consists of a single sentence. Who exactly Somma is and what he has to do with anything else in the book are left open to interpretation. Nor is the meaning of “horticulture meets living landscapes” entirely clear. Nevertheless, other portions prove to be strikingly distinct. Chapter 21 consists of one sentence: “And the still masked minority are trying to live through this Covid MOMENT.” It is a simple observation yet an astute one. The same can be said for a mention of the 10 millionth visitor to the Princeton University library. Items like 10 million library visitors, the famous Einstein, and a total lunar eclipse make for poetic imagery. That the eclipse occurred on Nov. 8, 2022, helps tie together a rough timeline. In the end, readers can do nearly endless traveling on the tangents the book has to offer. The universe has room for it all.  

A whimsical, thought-provoking, if sometimes opaque, look at the magic of existence.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2022

ISBN: 9798765237472

Page Count: 102

Publisher: BalboaPress

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2023

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DEVOLUTION

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

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  • 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

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FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

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