Disappointing effort from an author who simply refuses to change an old, tired template.


Nanotechnology goes homicidal in the latest of this author’s ever-more self-derivative thrillers.

All is not well in Silicon Valley. In an intriguing opener, we get a scary little flash forward where 40-year-old Jack is sitting at home listening to his three desperately sick children, hoping they don’t die. Flash back a few days before that and Jack is running to Crate & Barrel, playing the role of house-husband ever since he got laid off as program division head at MediaTronics. Wife Julie is now the primary breadwinner, doing hush-hush Pentagon work with nanotechnology at the Xymos Corporation. Julie has seemed distracted recently, Jack is increasingly sure that she’s having an affair, and his sister is telling him to get a good divorce lawyer on deck. Then the baby, nine-month-old Amanda, comes down sick with a bizarre and terrifying illness that inexplicably disappears as suddenly as it arrived. Things aren’t going too well at Xymos, meantime, so Jack is called in to consult at their research facility out in the middle of the Nevada desert. The project that Julie was working on involved creating swarms of nanotech entities that the military could then use as weapons, surveillance systems, or whatever they wanted. Except the Pentagon was about the pull the plug because Xymos can’t get the bugs worked out. Pretty soon Jack and a few survivors are running about the lab jerry-rigging defenses against some highly evolved and deadly nanotech swarms gone rogue, which Julie just might have let escape on purpose. All the usual Crichton elements are here: pedantic display of research about an emerging technology (Jurassic Park), the emasculated husband (Disclosure), isolated research facility in lockdown (Andromeda Strain), and a motley crew of people trying to survive in a hostile environment (just about all of them). Normally, this would not be a problem, as even Crichton (Timeline, 1999, etc.) on autopilot still makes for a quick and entertaining, if ultimately unsatisfying, read. But this time the product is so by-the-numbers that even die-hard fans may find themselves bored.

Disappointing effort from an author who simply refuses to change an old, tired template.

Pub Date: Nov. 25, 2002

ISBN: 0-06-621412-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2002

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
  • 47

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • 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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.


Book 2 of Hearne's latest fantasy trilogy, The Seven Kennings (A Plague of Giants, 2017), set in a multiracial world thrust into turmoil by an invasion of peculiar giants.

In this world, most races have their own particular magical endowment, or “kenning,” though there are downsides to trying to gain the magic (an excellent chance of being killed instead) and using it (rapid aging and death). Most recently discovered is the sixth kenning, whose beneficiaries can talk to and command animals. The story canters along, although with multiple first-person narrators, it's confusing at times. Some characters are familiar, others are new, most of them with their own problems to solve, all somehow caught up in the grand design. To escape her overbearing father and the unreasoning violence his kind represents, fire-giant Olet Kanek leads her followers into the far north, hoping to found a new city where the races and kennings can peacefully coexist. Joining Olet are young Abhinava Khose, discoverer of the sixth kenning, and, later, Koesha Gansu (kenning: air), captain of an all-female crew shipwrecked by deep-sea monsters. Elsewhere, Hanima, who commands hive insects, struggles to free her city from the iron grip of wealthy, callous merchant monarchists. Other threads focus on the Bone Giants, relentless invaders seeking the still-unknown seventh kenning, whose confidence that this can defeat the other six is deeply disturbing. Under Hearne's light touch, these elements mesh perfectly, presenting an inventive, eye-filling panorama; satisfying (and, where appropriate, well-resolved) plotlines; and tensions between the races and their kennings to supply much of the drama.

A charming and persuasive entry that will leave readers impatiently awaiting the concluding volume.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-345-54857-3

Page Count: 592

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?