A slow but intriguing series starter.

DRYAD

From the The Darkness Engine Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In the 34th century, an underground movement of scientists tries to prevent Earth’s takeover by malevolent alien species in this sci-fi novel, first of a trilogy.

After war and ecological disasters, Earth spins in a toxic cloud, habitable only in a few high-altitude locations. A handful of rich corporations control the remaining population’s access to goods and knowledge. A secret movement of the “open minded and enlightened,” called Physis, has preserved crucial ecological and other information in hidden locations for each new generation. As the novel begins, it’s year 3300, and Professor Jaxon Ballard is illegally searching a Western European site for signs of ecological recovery. He also hopes to find information related to the death of his wife, Caryn, who was bludgeoned at an excavation site that had, like this one, some odd characteristics, including little black plants and a dark, iridescent black crystal. What no one knows is that the creatures of Siluria aim to transform Earth for their own habitation, a process facilitated by Dryads, who make humans selfish, afraid, and destructive. Emily, Jaxon’s daughter, grows up knowing about Physis and the crystal, which has shown her a vision of a “girl of light.” In 3329, Emily has an opportunity to help save humanity—if she can complete a dangerous mission and thwart the enemy’s cruel plans. In his debut novel, Shaw tells a complicated story with good atmosphere and tech details. For example, “Emily slammed her empty chitinous mug down hard onto the bar, warm soycohol dribbled down her chin.” Dialogue and characterization are also solid. While the plot, with escapes, rescues, and crucial missions, offers some excitement, the pacing drags. It’s odd, too, that 13 centuries after #MeToo, powerful men still openly leer at their employees. Also, the book needs another polish, especially for its very frequent comma splices. 

A slow but intriguing series starter.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 4, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 71

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more