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Mays Landing

An intriguing tale of a homeless drifter hoping to reinvent his life.

A suicidal young man decides to settle in New York’s subway tunnels with a band of vagrants.

In Mercer’s debut novel, Mays, a medical school dropout, finds himself homeless and broke after a failed suicide attempt. At the hospital, he meets Thomas “T-Bone” Bonicelli, who offers to help him escape without drawing the attention of the nurses. The two meet later at Saint Christopher All Souls Kitchen. After T-Bone finds out about Mays’ financial problems, he tells him, “We can’t have you walking around with no money like you’re some kinda bum on the street.” T-Bone earns cash by participating in “clinical trials in the pharmaceutical industry” and medical experiments. After T-Bone invites Mays to live in the “Bat Cave,” his underground home beneath the subway tunnels, Mays come to think of his new companion as a “surrogate quasi-father figure” and discovers that he has “something that had been missing for quite some time: a future.” Mays and T-Bone have their farts tested at a “clinical exercise testing facility,” become prostate exam test subjects for third-year medical students, and even sell their sperm on a weekly basis to avoid becoming destitute. Though Mercer doesn’t ever clearly state his main character’s motivations—why does he decide to trust T-Bone and go along with his schemes?—his strange tale of two men living off the grid is a fresh and vividly rendered take on the alternate lifestyle trope. Some readers may be put off by the author’s light treatment of mental illness and suicide—in one disturbing section, Mays considers all the ways he might try killing himself again—but Mercer’s goal seems to be to push boundaries past the acceptable and into the grotesque. Mays’ quest to find meaning should be familiar to those struggling to find direction in their own lives, but that may not be a good enough reason for readers to stick around for a character whose path and purpose seem to remain mysterious even to the author.

An intriguing tale of a homeless drifter hoping to reinvent his life.

Pub Date: March 28, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 282

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 27, 2016

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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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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

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IT ENDS WITH US

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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