This rousing sci-fi series opener deftly balances action, characterization, and concept.



A post-apocalyptic novel sees a young man searching for his father and a cure for the mutations that have swept the world.

Center City is a wasteland of filthy strangers and roving gangs, all desperate for food, shelter, and other resources. The Sickness has struck, killing “something like” 80 percent of the population and causing many of the survivors to mutate and gain special powers. Sixteen-year-old Oscar looks for his missing father, an anthropologist who might be the key to halting the Sickness. With him is 13-year-old Alan, who’s one of the Changed. He has enormous glowing eyes and can speak with animals. On the way to the safety of the Arcadia compound, run by family friend Adele, Oscar and Alan must avoid the zealots who follow Walter, a God-fearing man who believes the Changed are demons. When the boys encounter the followers of Eli, who’s incorporating the Changed under his banner, security seems within reach. Eli’s men, however, are hunting a woman with plant-based powers named Roxy and her hulking companion, Art. The teens help the Changed individuals escape and take them on as allies. Oscar, while remaining hopeful that he’ll find his father, continues to have vivid dreams that mention someone called the Messenger. In this sci-fi series opener, Marsh (The Red, 2012) offers well-conceived superpowers (reminiscent of X-Men) and a land gripped by scarcity and lawlessness (as in The Walking Dead). His prose rings with surreal elegance in depicting the Changed, like the chameleon man whose “eyes puffed out from his skull. Blue, all-too-human irises sat inside scaled mounds of flesh, which moved independently from one another.” While Walter’s faction is terrible, Eli acts on the words God speaks directly to him. Marsh is careful never to equate spirituality with madness, and deepens the discussion when Roxy says, “The Universe isn’t limited by our understanding of it.” Though verbose at times, the narrative should satisfy action junkies as it ramps up to a grisly finale. Oscar comes into his own as a hero to rally around.

This rousing sci-fi series opener deftly balances action, characterization, and concept.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4922-2508-9

Page Count: 222

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2017

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


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

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.


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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