Strong characters, ready wit and an excellent sense of plotting enliven Reinemann’s propulsive tale, which never flags in...

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Shadows of Time - Probable Outcome

An impromptu trip turns into a sobering look into the future for John Roley and Tim Jackson, the hapless heroes of Reinemann’s ongoing series about time travelers given responsibilities and powers they barely understand.

Relatively fresh off the adventures of the first book, John, Tim and ISAC-9, their sentient computer partner, are working on retrofitting an experimental aircraft to be a time ship, but the repair and engineering work needed is far too much for two men and a computer, despite them being powerful Guardians who possess the legendary Amulets of Time. Between the need for extra help and the attention of a young med student John is falling for, Tim and John end up bringing three more people aboard the time ship, now christened the Wells. A surprise visit from a business rival causes the heroes to take the Wells on a short jaunt, but a malfunction drops them in the year 3000, in a world where humans have been almost driven extinct by a race of synthetic people—people originally created by one of the interns brought aboard by Tim and John. Faced with a world they inadvertently created, and split up by warring forces, John and Tim must figure out how to save their new friends while avoiding a grisly end in the ongoing battle between humans and synthetics. As befitting the second book in a series, Reinemann is able to dispense with much of the setup and jump right into the action; however, even readers who haven’t read the first book will be able to roll with the story, as Reinemann quickly and clearly establishes his characters’ voices and basic traits. Fortunately, he understands how to fold pertinent background details into the flow without resorting to infodumps. Despite the dark subject matter in the later pages as well as the philosophical implications the book touches on regarding the travelers’ responsibilities in creating this war-torn future, Reinemann clearly intends John and Tim’s adventures to be light in tone, with plenty of snappy dialogue. During a few stretches, the tone of John and Tim’s adventures clashes with the events of the book—including when a lethal robotic soldier truncates his identity until all that remains is his model number, HIRC-947—but for the most part, Reinemann manages to keep the balance. Even when the tone and subject matter are at odds, the story moves at a steady pace without jettisoning reader interest.

Strong characters, ready wit and an excellent sense of plotting enliven Reinemann’s propulsive tale, which never flags in its 700-plus pages.

Pub Date: May 10, 2013

ISBN: 978-1483958392

Page Count: 716

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2013

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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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Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

THE TESTAMENTS

Atwood goes back to Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), consistently regarded as a masterpiece of 20th-century literature, has gained new attention in recent years with the success of the Hulu series as well as fresh appreciation from readers who feel like this story has new relevance in America’s current political climate. Atwood herself has spoken about how news headlines have made her dystopian fiction seem eerily plausible, and it’s not difficult to imagine her wanting to revisit Gilead as the TV show has sped past where her narrative ended. Like the novel that preceded it, this sequel is presented as found documents—first-person accounts of life inside a misogynistic theocracy from three informants. There is Agnes Jemima, a girl who rejects the marriage her family arranges for her but still has faith in God and Gilead. There’s Daisy, who learns on her 16th birthday that her whole life has been a lie. And there's Aunt Lydia, the woman responsible for turning women into Handmaids. This approach gives readers insight into different aspects of life inside and outside Gilead, but it also leads to a book that sometimes feels overstuffed. The Handmaid’s Tale combined exquisite lyricism with a powerful sense of urgency, as if a thoughtful, perceptive woman was racing against time to give witness to her experience. That narrator hinted at more than she said; Atwood seemed to trust readers to fill in the gaps. This dynamic created an atmosphere of intimacy. However curious we might be about Gilead and the resistance operating outside that country, what we learn here is that what Atwood left unsaid in the first novel generated more horror and outrage than explicit detail can. And the more we get to know Agnes, Daisy, and Aunt Lydia, the less convincing they become. It’s hard, of course, to compete with a beloved classic, so maybe the best way to read this new book is to forget about The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy it as an artful feminist thriller.

Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54378-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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