A philosophically simplistic but entertaining ecological drama.

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FORRESTER BRANCH

A landowner fights to protect his Colorado property from soulless commercial development. 

Micah Forrester’s family has owned property in Wishbone Ridge for generations, and he loves living there. He spends the bulk of his happily sleepy days hunting and fishing and enjoying its pristine vistas. However, Willem Vossler, an entrepreneurially ambitious local, has plans to build a colossal ski resort and transform the area into a vacation destination. Micah frets about the environmental degradation such a development could cause, especially plans for a sewage treatment plant. Willem offers him an astronomical sum for his property—an offer Micah never entertains for even a moment—and refuses to take no for an answer. Debut author Corle makes sure the fictional assignment of good and evil is free of ambiguity. Willem’s henchmen are willing to badly beat a college student activist, and Micah is simply incorruptible, no matter the price. The backbone of the novel is Micah’s complexity as a character—educated to be an architect and a former Air Force Ranger, he’s a rare combination of refinement and unpretentious authenticity. Also, the romance between Micah and a local college professor unfurls with great tenderness and sensitivity. Micah’s retreat into the woods is an emotional one. He still reels from the failure of his marriage and the deaths of his parents. Corle’s impressive goal is to shatter shopworn stereotypes. Micah is an accomplished painter, and his friend Lonnie, a “local dude wrangler,” is a college-educated man. The plot is a far-too-binary lesson in morality, however, which makes it seem too eagerly didactic. Also, the dialogue can be a touch canned, reminiscent of old cop shows filled with bravado and corny one-liners: “Follow my instructions and you’ll live to bitch another day. Give me any trouble and you’ll be the ugliest damned corpse our coroner ever saw.” Corle generously fills his tale with action and drama; readers looking for fast-paced excitement will find it here.

A philosophically simplistic but entertaining ecological drama.

Pub Date: Jan. 2, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 673

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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