A terrifying account of global disorder and American decline.

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RESURRECTION AMERICA

In a dystopian future, a secretive government project threatens a small town. 

Resurrection, a modestly sized town in Colorado, has seen better days; its mine closed down, essentially killing its economy. Much to his surprise, Sheriff Rick Johnson one day discovers a peculiar fence erected around the abandoned mine and a heavily armed crew guarding activity inside, both frenetically and furtively conducted. Hank Keefer, the man in charge of the band, convinces Johnson to keep the project to himself for a couple of days, promising to donate millions to Resurrection in exchange for his cooperation. But during a major festival, Keefer and his men commandeer the town and forcibly quarantine it. Keefer reveals that he’s actually a colonel with the Army’s Special Weapons Division and that he’s been using the mine to develop a deadly biological weapon; as a result of a mishap, a toxin was inadvertently released in the air. The toxin has the potential to wipe out Resurrection’s entire population, but Keefer assures the residents he can save them with a vaccine he has in plentiful supply. Johnson, however, is skeptical from the start and suspects that Keefer’s true intentions are nefarious. Meanwhile, Johnson, a war hero suffering from the trauma of the violent campaigns he participated in, tries to find normality in Resurrection. He carries on a slow but tender romance with a local, Dahlia Stevens, the mother of a young boy, but struggles to reconcile with Cassie Baker, his former paramour, a scientist who returns to town to inspect the mine. Gunhus (Where Are Your Shoes, 2017, etc.) adroitly designs a frightening world upended by geopolitical chaos; the United States, the victim of catastrophic terrorist attacks, struggles to bring order to global madness: “The Chinese invasions through Asia, the instability in Russia, the chaos in South America, the street-to-street fighting against the Jihadis in European capitals, all of it showed the average American a world sliding toward darkness.” Johnson is a memorable and relatable hero, hardened by war and loss but astonishingly hopeful. This tale offers a deliciously creepy vision of a grim tomorrow rendered harrowingly plausible. 

A terrifying account of global disorder and American decline. 

Pub Date: June 5, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Seven Guns Press

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2017

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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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