THE BANE OF YOTO

An epic, vivid, and gory SF revenge tale with graphic-novel undertones.

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In this SF novel, two brothers of vastly different temperaments must fight to liberate their race from merciless alien enslavers.

The peaceful, blue-furred numah are enslaved on Neos, a moon that can no longer be called a moon given the destruction of its planet by the Arbitrators, an all-powerful celestial race. Under the oversight of the physically dominant, bloodthirsty olokun, they work in the mines, digging up aegis ore to construct a giant shield in space. Some among the numah dream of rebellion. Others, like Yoto, seek merely to survive and so allow themselves to become complicit in their overlords’ cruelties. But Yoto, for all his cowardice, is destined for greater things. Though it is his heroic brother, Eon, who is singled out by the alien witch Lagaia to wield a dagger that will overthrow the olokun and maybe the Arbitrators, it is Yoto who becomes entangled with the weapon. It transforms him into a creature of gargantuan size and strength (“He drew energy from within himself and Neos”)—formidable enough, perhaps, to do battle with the vile Gen. Vega and his sadistic son, Cadoc. Can Yoto’s brutal retaliation lead to a better future, or will he cause Neos’ destruction? Viola, Acevedo, and Karpuk present an omniscient, past-tense narrative that focuses on action rather than the characters or setting—although SF elements like the olokun’s organic technology are present. The protagonists lack nuance, serving as archetypes of cowardice, heroism, and villainy. The dialogue, like the prose generally, tends to be workmanlike and aimed toward advancing the plot. The novel’s greatest strength lies in its epic nature. The authors linger over the numah’s subjugation and the olokun’s depravities, stoking readers’ desire for a turnabout. This comes amid setbacks and bloody losses playing out over hundreds of pages. The violence is extreme yet somewhat matter-of-fact in its presentation, as if begging for illustrations. (Indeed, there is a sense throughout of a story intended for adaptation into a manga or anime series.) The book is divided into six parts (plus an epilogue), each with a lurid, black-and-white frontispiece by Bendert. It concludes with full-page character pictures that emphasize the larger-than-life conflict. Fans of kaijin and kaiju media should approve.

An epic, vivid, and gory SF revenge tale with graphic-novel undertones.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2022

ISBN: 979-8986219448

Page Count: 478

Publisher: Hex Publishers

Review Posted Online: Oct. 24, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2022

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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

RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power.

In the beginning, Darrow, the narrator, works in the mines on Mars, a life of drudgery and subservience. He’s a member of the Reds, an “inferior” class, though he’s happily married to Eo, an incipient rebel who wants to overthrow the existing social order, especially the Golds, who treat the lower-ranking orders cruelly. When Eo leads him to a mildly rebellious act, she’s caught and executed, and Darrow decides to exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this outrage. He’s recruited by a rebel cell and “becomes” a Gold by having painful surgery—he has golden wings grafted on his back—and taking an exam to launch himself into the academy that educates the ruling elite. Although he successfully infiltrates the Golds, he finds the social order is a cruel and confusing mash-up of deception and intrigue. Eventually, he leads one of the “houses” in war games that are all too real and becomes a guerrilla warrior leading a ragtag band of rebelliously minded men and women. Although it takes a while, the reader eventually gets used to the specialized vocabulary of this world, where warriors shoot “pulseFists” and are protected by “recoilArmor.” As with many similar worlds, the warrior culture depicted here has a primitive, even classical, feel to it, especially since the warriors sport names such as Augustus, Cassius, Apollo and Mercury.

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53978-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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