A suburban drama built to leap from page to screen.


Possibilities and parallel lives collide in this debut novel about frustrated marriages, hidden desires, and environmental disaster.

When an emergency room pager disrupts Ginny, an ambitious surgeon, from her nighttime routine, she's surprised to look over and suddenly see her colleague Edith lying in bed—instead of her husband, Mark. "Ginny smells warm skin and damp sheets; she hears her own quickened breath....The woman reaches out, as if to stroke Ginny's hair. Then, in an instant, she's gone." Startled by this vision, Ginny seeks medical answers even as she pursues the desire it revealed. Meanwhile, Mark, an environmental scientist, struggles to gain the respect of his colleagues, who dismiss his obsessive research "on the connection between geothermal activity and animal behavior." (Perhaps it's because he gives his research project an unfortunate acronym: DAMN.) Compelled by an impending sense of doom he can't explain, Mark dives into the "prepper" communities of the Pacific Northwest and begins to build a backyard survival shelter for his family. Woven through the story of Ginny and Mark's crumbling marriage are the lives of their two neighbors, Samara, a young real estate agent still reeling from her mother's untimely death, and Cass, a young mother struggling to regain her footing as a philosophy Ph.D. after the birth of her daughter. Broken Mountain, a dormant volcano that "rises...misty green" above the town of Clearing, Oregon, looms over them all—giving off tremors that bring on visions of alternate realities. Day's first novel recalls the philosophical headiness of a TV show like Lost and remixes this sensibility with the chronological playfulness of Cloud Atlas or Atonement. But, until the story really takes off, the emotional stakes of the novel are low—and the prose feels flat and inert, almost like stage directions. There are more affecting moments in the second half of the book, like Samara's attempt to buy back her mother's effects from Goodwill: "The mound of miscellaneous things has grown almost as tall as she is. It looks heavy and dark and sad. You don't really want all that stuff, her mother's voice says. It was mine, and I didn't even want it." With all the atmospheric mist crowding out its emotional center, this book's heart is difficult to locate—but the occasional glimpses show promise.

A suburban drama built to leap from page to screen.

Pub Date: March 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-51122-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 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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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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A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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