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ANGELS

From the the CYBER Series series , Vol. 2

A smashing novel that delivers action, solid characterization, and plenty of metal.

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In this SF sequel, an elite team’s search for an abducted teenager pits them against dangerous human traffickers.

By 2048, the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and other factors have devastated the world. Although dystopian America lacks a central federal government, it does have a covert agency of technologically advanced personnel called CYBER (“Cybernetically-Enhanced Response Force”). Jack Mathews leads one of CYBER’s teams, who gear up for a mission to rescue Kelly Elverson, the teenage daughter of a man Jack knew back in his days as a pastor. It’s quickly apparent that human traffickers grabbed her, but the combat-trained and cybernetically altered team is ready and “wired” with hacking skills, increased speed, and super-strength. In a “fortress town” called Witch City (formerly Wichita, Kansas), CYBER plans to infiltrate a dangerous underworld and shut down the traffickers’ organization. However, their hunt for Kelly and other kidnapped teens ultimately sends Jack and his team right onto a megacorp’s home turf. This corporate conglomerate, like others of its kind, is as powerful as any government and dabbles in all sorts of nefarious deeds. Gizinski’s follow-up to The Metal Within (2016), despite its epic length of more than 600 pages, matches the brisk pace of its predecessor, as when CYBER, at various points, makes precarious deals with biker gangs, gets caught up in gunfights, and races to escape a high-rise. The large cast includes returning characters, new enemies, and potential new CYBER recruits. Throughout, the narrative gleefully shuffles through a range of character names, as some have codenames (like Jack’s “Preach” and his older handle “Greyscale”) and others have undercover aliases. Some players wind up in engrossing subplots—most notably CYBER member Josanne Sinclair, whose brother, James, may have a tie to the traffickers. The author’s crisp, concise prose ably steers clear of excessive violence and opts for such four-letter words as drek and popular genre expletive frak, known for its use in the Sci-Fi Channel show Battlestar Galactica. Gizinski teases another sequel, but this story’s denouement is a rewarding payoff.

A smashing novel that delivers action, solid characterization, and plenty of metal.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2023

ISBN: 9798987861394

Page Count: 678

Publisher: Polestar Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 7, 2023

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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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

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DARK MATTER

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.

Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.

Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.

Pub Date: July 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-101-90422-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016

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