A solid man-at-a-crossroads story.

GRAND FINALE

The destinies of a man with a brain tumor, a gambler, a pimp, and a Native American teenager converge on the Grand Canyon in this debut novel.

Struggling with a dying marriage, unsuccessful career, and the recent diagnosis of a brain tumor, business traveler Raymond “Ray” Leonard finds himself disembarking with other passengers in Las Vegas instead of continuing to Los Angeles. As a child, Ray had a near-death experience falling from the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, a terrifying event that now seems to call to him. To hike into a remote part of the canyon, he’ll need money; luckily, he hits it off with gambler/sometime prostitute Antoinette Polasek, called Annie. They work together to parlay their cash into a tidy sum at the casinos, becoming close in the process. Annie is being harassed by Winston Culpepper, a strong-arming pimp. Ray and Johnny Valentine (Annie’s protective older neighbor) drive him off but don’t kill him, a lapse that leads to greater destruction down the road. Ray heads off to the Grand Canyon, where a 15-year-old Native American, Augustine Watahomigie, is on a power quest. His grandfather, a noted healer, wants him to learn more of the old ways, which appeals to Augustine despite his other ambition: becoming a rapper. Unknown to Ray, Culpepper is after him, using Annie and her disabled younger sister as leverage. With all their paths leading to the canyon, tragedy ensues and lives are changed. In his novel, Pounds might be accused of relying on two overused tropes, in which less-powerful characters—here, a good-hearted gambler/occasional sex worker and some Native Americans—come to the rescue of a needy white man. Augustine is mystically called to help Ray, for example, but why he especially deserves this isn’t clear. That said, the author takes the trouble to develop backstories and point-of-view sections for his nonwhite, non-male characters, which makes them more three-dimensional. Ray, too, gains gravitas in his struggles to come to terms with his mortality, giving the book an uplifting ending. In addition, the plot is well paced and the locations are vividly described.

A solid man-at-a-crossroads story.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Manuscript

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 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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