A smart, delightfully offbeat tale with shades of sci-fi and military action.



In this debut novel and series opener, humanity struggles to adapt to a strange, otherworldly entity’s presence and its self-imposed—but not entirely welcome—plan to save the world.

In the near future, numerous people experiencing a quick, stabbing pain in the abdominal area become part of a global event. Someone takes credit for the apparent attack, calling it a demonstration and promising to reveal all at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly. It’s there that a “saucer shaped craft” arrives and a humanlike being emerges—the Voice of the Host. The Host has an ultimatum: earthlings will cease all hostilities or be destroyed, much like members of a violent faction whom the entity later kills simultaneously. Parts of the Host’s planet-saving strategy are beneficial, enlisting Wil, a Virtual (his time is largely spent in virtual reality), to combat starvation by developing optimum crop production in VR for real-world application. Many, however, are resistant to the Host, seeing it as either a dominating alien or some sort of demon. Col. John Harriman and others, meanwhile, hope to reclaim freedoms taken by the Host, which intends to implement a world government. Taking down the entity will necessitate studying its superior technology—as covertly as possible, of course. Brent delivers a worthy novel, with tension derived from the Host’s ambiguity and a dialogue-heavy narrative of characters’ varying theories. For example, there are alternating signs of extraterrestrial and religious origins; human Directors working for the Host have “halos” over their heads, which are reputedly devices linking each person to the entity. Two romances in the story are rather conventional (meeting the parents is a significant step in both) but nicely contrast with the titular character. Wil and Sonya, for one, meet in VR but gradually join reality, while sometime assassin Harriman and war correspondent Grace, with violent conflicts now absent, lose their livelihoods. Elucidation on the Host is striking, but the ending is truly remarkable and a stunning preamble to Book 2.

A smart, delightfully offbeat tale with shades of sci-fi and military action.

Pub Date: Aug. 25, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5320-3143-4

Page Count: 462

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2017

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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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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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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.


Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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