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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

Did you like this book?

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 79

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • 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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?