Tales of gods and men akin to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman as penned by a kindred spirit of Douglas Adams.

REINCARNATION BLUES

The oldest soul on planet Earth is given five last chances to get life right.

Poore (Up Jumps the Devil, 2012) offered a metaphysical love story in his debut and here places another timeless romance inside a wildly ambitious comedy of errors. In Poore’s universe, people die—but they don’t end. They’re resurrected over and over again as different people, in different eras of time and space. Our hero is Milo, a guy (and sometimes a girl and occasionally a cricket) who has had 9,995 chances to reach “perfection,” after which he gets to go through the Sun Door and merge with the “Oversoul.” This is all explained to him by two cosmic busybodies named Mama and Nan who are endlessly pestering Milo to do better. “Every life has something to teach you,” they explain. “Chances for you to learn and grow and eventually become perfect.” But Milo is running out of time. If he doesn’t reach his goal by his 10,000th life, Mama and Nan are going to boot him off the Universal Sidewalk and he’ll pass into oblivion. “Your soul will be canceled like a dumb TV show,” Nan says. Compounding Milo’s problem is his long-standing romance with his girlfriend, the living embodiment of Death, who prefers to be called “Suzie.” “ 'Love’ and ‘in love’ aren’t always the same thing,” Suzie explains. “ 'In love’ is a human thing. Chemicals. ‘Love’ is cosmic. I love you, too.” So in addition to experiencing Milo’s five last lives, from dying in a comet blast to being shipwrecked on a far-off planet, we also get hilarious and often touching flashbacks to all his weird, wonderful lives. Poore is also, like Christopher Moore, a master at lines so funny and startling they inspire spit-takes: “Remember that time you fucked it up so bad you had to come back as a bug?” Suzie asks.

Tales of gods and men akin to Neil Gaiman’s Sandman as penned by a kindred spirit of Douglas Adams.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-399-17848-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 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.

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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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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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