GRAVEMINDER

Beware the hungry dead, for they will rise from the grave to eat.

Maylene Barrow is Claysville's graveminder, a thing far different from a sexton caring for a cemetery's grounds. Death has a contract with her town. As long as the graveminder gives the dead "words, food, and drink," Claysville's citizens will not die before the age of 80, unless from an accident. People born in Claysville rarely leave its comfortable borders. If they leave, they feel compelled to return to the idyllic town. And those born in Claysville must be buried there lest they become one of the Hungry Dead. Death—"Mr. D," or informally, "Charles"—made this contract with the first of the Barrow women, Abigail, more than 200 years ago. Abigail discovered the magic Underground where the dead live, and fascinated with Abigail, Mr. D followed her to the land of the living, unwittingly releasing havoc upon Claysville. The book opens with Maylene killed by one of the Hungry Dead, Daisha, a girl murdered and buried beyond Claysville's pastoral borders. Maylene's granddaughter, Rebekkah, home for Maylene's funeral, learns she is the next graveminder. Romance enters the immortal conflict when Rebekkah discovers that Byron, for whom she refuses to admit love, has also returned and will be her Undertaker, her guide between the worlds of the living and the dead. Rebekkah, in danger from Daisha and other undead who are nourished only by human flesh and blood, has long felt guilt over the suicide of sister Ella, who was to be the next graveminder. Ella chose death and the magic life Underground rather than familial duty. Endangering Rebekkah's mission is Cecelia, Maylene's daughter, burning with hatred because she and her daughters have been passed over. There's minimal exposition and routine character development, but the emotional dance between Rebekkah and Byron will captivate female readers. Fantasy-horror fans will demand more.   

 

Pub Date: June 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-182687-0

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2011

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

THE ANDROMEDA EVOLUTION

Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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SHAKESPEARE FOR SQUIRRELS

Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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