by A. Michael Marsh ‧ RELEASE DATE: Dec. 15, 2013
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
Page Count: 222
Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2017
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.
Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.
In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.
Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: Oct. 4, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014
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