Difficult to read and understand; the presentation squashes an intriguing premise.

READ REVIEW

HEROES' CALLING REVISED EDITION

This ambitious novel, written mostly in the form of a play, combines action, mythology, religion and anime.

Edge is an Asian-American teen from Brooklyn who, as a child, discovers he can harness heat energy and shoot fireballs. He possesses this power as the result of a war waged between Jehovah and Lucifer, in which one of Lucifer’s generals turned against his master and fought on the side of goodness. Details of this war were apparently suppressed by the Church, as was the fact that Adam was an angel and Eve a demon. These bold assertions are typical of the novel’s incredibly complex, often difficult-to-follow plot. As Edge grows up, he finds that many of his close friends have extraordinary powers, too, including the ability to teleport. This connection to friends with superpowers proves to be fortuitous, since Lucifer’s generals have returned to Earth to reclaim the scattered, mystical sources of their power. The underlying scenario has potential, but unfortunately, and for no clear reason, the novel is written like a play, with the action in brackets. With admirable consistency, this technique is sustained across hundreds of pages, although it doesn’t quite benefit the telling of the tale. The dialogue is perfunctory and trite—“Raven: I got a plan, and it’s an awesome plan!”—and the stage-direction rendering of the novel’s action tends to dampen the wonder of what could be spectacular scenes, especially Edge becoming an angel in heaven, the fights between angels and demons, and even a nuclear blast. The sketches of action struggle to leave an impression: “[The War Commandant leaves the office and gets into a helicopter that takes him to an unnamed building in a field of grass. He exits, enters the facility, and gets on an elevator that takes him a few floors down. The elevator opens into a room with a person strapped to a table with his arms and legs spread apart.]” Also, in the repetitive fight scenes, main characters call out their signature moves before executing them, as in a video game or anime—parallels young readers may or may not enjoy.

Difficult to read and understand; the presentation squashes an intriguing premise.

Pub Date: June 7, 2011

ISBN: 978-1456767624

Page Count: 452

Publisher: AuthorHouse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 26, 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.

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?

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 11, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more