Michael Moore meets Nineteen Eighty-Four in this pulpy action-thriller, which explores the pathologies of rampant capitalist...

Azaleas Don't Bloom Here

A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL

In Klus’ (Take the Pilgrim Road, 2013) sci-fi sequel, a businessman finds himself embroiled in a revolutionary conspiracy in a nightmarish future America, where powerful corporate interests and gangsterlike cops dominate the government.

In the downsized North America of 2065, after a period of virtual civil war, the federal authority is going broke and a corporate-dominated, fascist/capitalist lobby called NOGOV has reduced society to feudal terms. Chicago is a vast, semi-anarchic urban ruin, filled with homeless people and junkies (legal drugs and prostitution are proven moneymakers), while ultra-rich citizens dwell in a gated community called the Fortress. A patchwork of police-militias, composed of laid-off military men and mercenaries with varying degrees of loyalty, sadism, and psychosis, maintain a semblance of law and order in “Old America.” Eugene Sulke, a member of the remaining upper middle class, is an accountant from an influential family who’s apolitical, although he maintains a friendship with a Howard Zinn–like professor. Sulke is suddenly caught between the “Lightning Squad,” an elite police force rapidly degrading into a bunch of warlord-gangsters, and a violent, resourceful group of disillusioned ex-police officers and commandos seeking to radicalize him. After a brush with secret, government-sanctioned torture, he takes a fugitive route to “New America,” a supposed West Coast haven, run on the co-op model, that’s enduring a media blackout and trade embargo. The novel’s sometimes-creaky plot mechanics require more than a little suspension of disbelief: formerly toadying journalists suddenly deliver scoops damaging to the oligarchs; brainwashed neoconservatives recover their memories and transform into freedom fighters; and secret letters and top-secret messages conveniently surface. The pallid Sulke seems an unlikely protagonist for readers to make a fuss over, and one might argue that a satire, rather than a serious action-thriller, would have been a better vehicle for putting across a depraved American society where free-market Mafia and gun-nut AM radio talkers have their way. That said, the narrative should still engage readers who think that Occupy Wall Street has a point, as it offers a vicarious visit to a RoboCop-like plutocracy collapsing from its own socioeconomic rottenness.

Michael Moore meets Nineteen Eighty-Four in this pulpy action-thriller, which explores the pathologies of rampant capitalist greed and corruption.

Pub Date: June 6, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 363

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2016

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
  • 10

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?

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING

A wild child’s isolated, dirt-poor upbringing in a Southern coastal wilderness fails to shield her from heartbreak or an accusation of murder.

“The Marsh Girl,” “swamp trash”—Catherine “Kya” Clark is a figure of mystery and prejudice in the remote North Carolina coastal community of Barkley Cove in the 1950s and '60s. Abandoned by a mother no longer able to endure her drunken husband’s beatings and then by her four siblings, Kya grows up in the careless, sometimes-savage company of her father, who eventually disappears, too. Alone, virtually or actually, from age 6, Kya learns both to be self-sufficient and to find solace and company in her fertile natural surroundings. Owens (Secrets of the Savanna, 2006, etc.), the accomplished co-author of several nonfiction books on wildlife, is at her best reflecting Kya’s fascination with the birds, insects, dappled light, and shifting tides of the marshes. The girl’s collections of shells and feathers, her communion with the gulls, her exploration of the wetlands are evoked in lyrical phrasing which only occasionally tips into excess. But as the child turns teenager and is befriended by local boy Tate Walker, who teaches her to read, the novel settles into a less magical, more predictable pattern. Interspersed with Kya’s coming-of-age is the 1969 murder investigation arising from the discovery of a man’s body in the marsh. The victim is Chase Andrews, “star quarterback and town hot shot,” who was once Kya’s lover. In the eyes of a pair of semicomic local police officers, Kya will eventually become the chief suspect and must stand trial. By now the novel’s weaknesses have become apparent: the monochromatic characterization (good boy Tate, bad boy Chase) and implausibilities (Kya evolves into a polymath—a published writer, artist, and poet), yet the closing twist is perhaps its most memorable oddity.

Despite some distractions, there’s an irresistible charm to Owens’ first foray into nature-infused romantic fiction.

Pub Date: Aug. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7352-1909-0

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

more