THE LIGHTNING STONES

"Climatology has been hijacked by politicians and environmental activists," and now by Du Brul. Add science fantasy, and it...

Du Brul (Havoc, 2006, etc.) moves from co-writing Clive Cussler books back to his own intrepid geologist, Philip Mercer, for another adventure where science meets special ops.

Roland D’Avejan, chief of green-energy mega-corporation Eurodyne, covets rare crystals that attract lightning—and may be able to manipulate Earth’s climate. He’ll kill to get them. Prospecting geologist and mining engineer Mercer stumbles into D’Avejan’s conspiracy when his mentor, professor Jacobs, is murdered during a cosmic ray climatology study at Minnesota’s Leister Deep mine. What follows is action piled upon action, with Mercer a target for bombs or bullets during a Mississippi River flood, in Afghanistan tribal badlands, and aboard a converted Russian research ship. In the process, Mercer discovers the location of Amelia Earhart’s lost aircraft and revisits Herbert Hoover’s mining career. Du Brul works magic with action and descriptions, whether it’s Old Man River washing away houses and cars or in Afghanistan’s desolate mountains where danger comes from AK-47s or altitude sickness. He assigns the crystals esoteric electrical properties, and Mercer discovers that a boxful were in Earhart’s aircraft, suggesting the minerals "would have warped Earhart’s radio transmissions." The science becomes more fictional when D’Avejan’s boffins engineer the crystals to beam "energy into the sky to raise the world’s average temperature." The adventure is laced with Du Brul’s own climate-change editorials, which only slightly slow down the slam-bang action. 

"Climatology has been hijacked by politicians and environmental activists," and now by Du Brul. Add science fantasy, and it makes for good action-adventure.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-52775-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: July 31, 2015

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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

RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power.

In the beginning, Darrow, the narrator, works in the mines on Mars, a life of drudgery and subservience. He’s a member of the Reds, an “inferior” class, though he’s happily married to Eo, an incipient rebel who wants to overthrow the existing social order, especially the Golds, who treat the lower-ranking orders cruelly. When Eo leads him to a mildly rebellious act, she’s caught and executed, and Darrow decides to exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this outrage. He’s recruited by a rebel cell and “becomes” a Gold by having painful surgery—he has golden wings grafted on his back—and taking an exam to launch himself into the academy that educates the ruling elite. Although he successfully infiltrates the Golds, he finds the social order is a cruel and confusing mash-up of deception and intrigue. Eventually, he leads one of the “houses” in war games that are all too real and becomes a guerrilla warrior leading a ragtag band of rebelliously minded men and women. Although it takes a while, the reader eventually gets used to the specialized vocabulary of this world, where warriors shoot “pulseFists” and are protected by “recoilArmor.” As with many similar worlds, the warrior culture depicted here has a primitive, even classical, feel to it, especially since the warriors sport names such as Augustus, Cassius, Apollo and Mercury.

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53978-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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