A substantial tale led by sharply drawn characters fighting for a worthy cause.

MIRADOR

In this debut novel, a Texan with a personal vendetta finds himself immersed in a brewing Mexican uprising against the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Dallas computer engineer Nate Hunter is wary of his upcoming trip to the Mexican village of Mirador in early 1993. But his wife, Sarah, is excited about the prospect of helping to restore an old chapel, so Nate reluctantly goes along. They’re traveling with five additional volunteers as well as a pastor and a man named Mateo De La Cruz, who’s driving the group to Mirador. Unfortunately, aggressive soldiers at the Chiapas border seemingly validate Nate’s concerns. It isn’t long before the volunteers encounter a powerful and dangerous individual known as El Pitón, whose humiliating and ultimately violent assault on the group results in tragedy. Nate returns to the U.S. but later, believing he should have done more to stop El Pitón, heads back to Mirador. He reconnects with Mateo, who, Nate learns, belongs to the rebel group currently protesting the imminent NAFTA, which will effectively take away land from locals who have little else. Nate joins the rebels, as it’s a chance to seek retribution against El Pitón. But he soon sympathizes with the people who are fighting to reclaim their rights and country—a war “against being forgotten.” Despite the American protagonist at the center, Jennings’ story eventually turns its focus to the real-life 1994 uprising in Mexico. Nate is an unquestionably engaging character with his own struggles, such as trying to prove to himself and others that he’s no coward. But the lengthy, unhurried narrative aptly establishes characters directly invested in the NAFTA opposition, from Mateo to Father Javier “Tatic” Carrillo. As the tale progresses, it becomes clear that the rebels’ war is driving the plot, not merely Nate’s quest for revenge. In addition to the revolt, the author smartly incorporates other real-world components, including Nate’s job, which involves the then relatively unknown internet. Though certain plot turns as well as the ending are predictable, the resolution is wholly gratifying.

A substantial tale led by sharply drawn characters fighting for a worthy cause.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 711

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2019

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

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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