Marsh blends superpowers, paramilitary action, and alien machinations to triumphant effect in this follow-up.

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SURVIVED

In Marsh’s (The Changed, 2013, etc.) sequel, a superpowered contingent hopes to harness alien devices that can tame a plague.

The farming community of Salvation, formerly Pogo Springs, is within the local quarantine zone. The Sickness that killed 80 percent of the area’s population—while granting some of the survivors superpowers—rampages still. Sixteen-year-old Oscar is one of the Changed; specifically, he’s the Messenger—a position that’s vital to humanity’s survival since he’s able to telepathically communicate with helpful aliens. One day, two intruders breach the quarantine: a scientist in a hazmat suit and a soldier who shoots and wounds the scientist before he delivers a mysterious metal case. Oscar, meanwhile, has been in a mental realm that he calls The Nowhere, talking with the alien Teleoinan. He’s learned that the microorganism causing the Sickness, the Manal, is evolving into something even more dangerous. Oscar’s people already possess an orb-shaped piece of alien technology called the Vessel; now they must recover the scepterlike Conductor to, as Teleoinan says, “stop all this from spreading.” However, Teleoinan’s disembodied nemesis, Thevetat, may still be influencing people, as some in Salvation are ready to use violence to force local change. Also, Oscar finds that the dying scientist possesses a photo of his missing father. For this high-stakes sequel, Marsh delivers a sci-fi adventure that keeps characterization and strong emotion in the foreground without sacrificing action. He subtly comments on America’s entrenched partisan politics with the verbal sparring and division in Salvation; in one scene, Oscar’s friend Roxy tells a manipulative blowhard: “It’s not about being right. It’s about keeping people safe.” Although the violence is brutal—often echoing real-life terrorism—Marsh keeps things light and nerdy with references to Captain Planet and the Planeteers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Clever new members of the Changed tribe include a humanoid dog named Donald and Zelda, who can absorb and retain information from printed content (such as an encyclopedia) through her hands. Even as certain mysteries are explained, a fiendishly bold cliffhanger ensures that fans will return for the next volume.

Marsh blends superpowers, paramilitary action, and alien machinations to triumphant effect in this follow-up.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-5472-3278-9

Page Count: 254

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 8, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2017

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

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

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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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