STAR ROAD by Matthew Costello


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Pulp science fiction from Costello (Vacation, 2012, etc.) and recently deceased (1949-2013) Hautala (The Demon’s Wife, 2013, etc.), their only collaboration.

The idea readers are asked to swallow—and it’s a large ask—is that space is threaded by a Star Road, a sort of blacktop in hyperspace, constructed by vanished alien Builders, patrolled by voracious Road Bugs that will eat you if you pull over, that humanity has learned to navigate in vehicles resembling rocket-propelled, airtight Humvees. Even more absurd, the ramps that lead to the Road’s gateways begin and end on planetary surfaces. Anyhow, the repressive World Council has decreed that it’s in sole charge of the Star Road. The rebellious Runners oppose the Council and insist the Roads should be open to all. Runner head-honcho Ivan Delgato has been captured; unfortunately, his brother, Kyros, has taken over, and he’s a lunatic intent on causing mayhem. So the Council releases Ivan from jail with the agreement that he head for planet Omega IX, confront Kyros and offer the Runners a deal. The action never falters as what starts out as a routine drive for Star Road Vehicle-66’s lively crew and passengers rapidly turns into a video game–inspired nightmare, with hairsbreadth escapes, dastardly plots, heroic rescues, gnomic utterances, monsters, love interests, guns and violence, aliens, and Raiders of the Lost Arkstyle tests of nerve and analysis. Younger readers—the gamer crowd—might well find this amusing and thrilling. The more mature audience will likely be annoyed at the daft concepts but also bemusedly charmed by the authors’ ability to pull rabbit after rabbit out of the hat.

All in all, something for everyone.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-250-01322-4
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2013


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