A fast-paced teen mystery that mimics the confusion of youth.

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AWAKEN FROM THE DARKNESS

An angry teen must clear himself of murder in Harker’s YA debut.

Adrenalin is Mitch Blais’ drug of choice. It keeps him away from the other substances enjoyed by his high school peers, but it comes with problems all its own. For instance, when someone baits him or disrespects his nerdy best friend, Charlie, Mitch may be inclined to throw a punch. When the fight turns against him, Mitch may accidentally push his opponent into a campfire. When the cops show up to stop the party, Mitch may opt to run for it. And when a cop tries to apprehend him, Mitch may respond by kicking her in the chest. It’s the adrenaline that makes him do these things. Mitch believes it will come in handy next year, when he graduates from high school and joins the Marines. His goal in life is to serve in Afghanistan and fight against the people he blames for his father’s death: “He wanted to make his dad proud by avenging his death. He wanted to go straight into the infantry in Afghanistan and seek revenge against the Muslims who had hurt his father.” When his probation officer, Mr. Rooney, warns Mitch that if he keeps getting into trouble he’s more likely to end up in prison orange than Marine Corps blues, Mitch responds with the typical threats and profanity. Therefore, when Mr. Rooney is found murdered in his apartment, it’s no surprise that the cops turn to Mitch as their primary suspect. He’s sent to await his trial at a menacing rehabilitation center where inmates have been known to disappear. If Mitch can’t uncover the truth of the crime and prove his innocence, it’s not only a military career that he’ll forsake, but the rest of his life. Harker writes in quick, propulsive prose that keeps the pages turning, and he has a knack for writing action sequences like chases and fights. However, it’s when the movement slows and more cerebral scenes are required that the story falters. Harker does a serviceable job depicting the opaque, inarticulate anger of youth, but sometimes that opaqueness and inarticulation cloud out plot logic and character motivation. Though Mitch is forced to confront some of his own demons and expand his narrow worldview, many of the other characters are a bit too flat to remain long in the reader’s mind.

A fast-paced teen mystery that mimics the confusion of youth.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2013

ISBN: 978-1492775676

Page Count: 214

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2015

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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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Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

THE ORDER

A legendary spy takes a vacation—or tries to, anyway—in Silva’s 20th Gabriel Allon novel.

Gabriel is trying to enjoy some rest and relaxation with his family in Venice when he learns that an old friend has died. As it happens, this old friend was Pope Paul VII, and it’s not long before Allon is summoned by the pontiff’s personal secretary. Archbishop Luigi Donati has reason to believe that the Holy Father did not die a natural death. For each of the past several summers, Silva has delivered a thriller that seems to be ripped from the headlines. This latest book feels, at first, like something of a throwback. Palace intrigue at the Vatican might seem quaint compared to Islamist extremism or Russia’s rise as an international influence, but Silva makes it relevant and compelling. Allon discovers that the most likely culprits in the death of the pope are connected to far-right leaders throughout Europe, and the rediscovery of a lost Gospel sheds new light on Christian anti-Semitism. The villains here are Catholic traditionalists—Silva’s imaginary Paul VII looks a lot like the real-life Francis I—and “populist” politicians who appeal to nativist, anti-globalist sympathies. As Silva looks at European contempt for a new wave of immigrants from Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, he finds a model for this xenophobia in ancient hatred of the Jewish people, an antipathy that has its roots in the New Testament. He interjects a few Bible studies lessons and offers a bit of history as background; these passages add depth without impeding the forward momentum of the plot. Readers familiar with this series may notice the evolution of a motif introduced a few novels ago: In the world of Gabriel Allon, the United States has receded from relevance on the world stage.

Engaging and deftly paced, another thoughtfully entertaining summer read from Silva.

Pub Date: July 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-283484-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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