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BURNING SKY

An enjoyable novel that should spark important discussion.

A speculative thriller about the effects of global warming.

Terrestrial temperatures will soon reach the point of no return, and authorities come up with a cockamamie scheme: Populate the stratosphere with sulfur particles to filter out much of the sunlight and cool things off. It’s called the Cocoon and covers the Northern Hemisphere, which is all the powers that be care about. The result is an utter societal and ecological disaster beginning with the Great Cull in 2039, with rising oceans and the deaths of millions of people and countless trees and animals. Social media collapses. No one can see the sun, the moon and stars, or the sky. And if that isn’t crazy enough, authorities ban the color blue so people will forget what they’re missing. A Color Guard tries to kill all birds with blue feathers and universally prohibits the display of Color X, as the 470-nanometer wavelength is officially called. Even the American flag is forbidden. The leader of this police state is a man named Messian, an obvious hint at "messianic." Meanwhile, a young man named Yon travels to South America and learns, among other things, that shadows exist. The story spans decades as people try to figure out how to deal with the hot mess they’ve made of the world, and then they make it worse. The Cocoon “was supposed to save everything,” but clearly it’s one big screw-up. Now people wonder, “What was it like before they stole the sky?” Some plot elements seem straight out of a thriller writer’s handbook: a scientist’s suspicious death down an icy moulin, requisite bad guys, a Resistance with an unexpected connection to the Power. It’s a justifiably bleak novel and a rather preachy one: Stop polluting now, folks, or this is what you could be in for. And there’s an attempted execution by hanging that—gotta say it—is quite a stretch. The ideas of launching sulfur-laden rockets to Save Us All and of banning blue seem implausible, but they are entertaining. Meanwhile, the question remains: What will we do when Earth heats beyond its tipping point?

An enjoyable novel that should spark important discussion.

Pub Date: May 14, 2024

ISBN: 9781648210242

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Arcade

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2024

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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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THE MINISTRY OF TIME

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

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A time-toying spy romance that’s truly a thriller.

In the author’s note following the moving conclusion of her gripping, gleefully delicious debut novel, Bradley explains how she gathered historical facts about Lt. Graham Gore, a real-life Victorian naval officer and polar explorer, then “extrapolated a great deal” about him to come up with one of her main characters, a curly-haired, chain-smoking, devastatingly charming dreamboat who has been transported through time. Having also found inspiration in the sole extant daguerreotype of Gore, showing him to have been “a very attractive man,” Bradley wrote the earliest draft of the book for a cluster of friends who were similarly passionate about polar explorers. Her finished novel—taut, artfully unspooled, and vividly written—retains the kind of insouciant joy and intimacy you might expect from a book with those origins. It’s also breathtakingly sexy. The time-toggling plot focuses on the plight of a British civil servant who takes a high-paying job on a secret mission, working as a “bridge” to help time-traveling “expats” resettle in 21st-century London—and who falls hard for her charge, the aforementioned Commander Gore. Drama, intrigue, and romance ensue. And while this quasi-futuristic tale of time and tenderness never seems to take itself too seriously, it also offers a meaningful, nuanced perspective on the challenges we face, the choices we make, and the way we live and love today.

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781668045145

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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