Jump Reactor


From the The Jump Reactor Series series

In Sales’ first sci-fi novel in an announced trilogy, a superpowered mutant in the 23rd century trains for his alien-influenced destiny.

In a somewhat Joseph Heller–esque 23rd century, mankind realizes that the Hoodia, reptilian aliens determined to make Homo sapiens less warlike and troublesome, have been guiding its destiny and evolution for millennia. To this end, the Hoodia have used computer projections to simulate “Angels” and spirit-possessions. From time to time, they also create a “jump reactor,” a messiah figure, to kick the paradigm up a notch—an especially high-risk job that can go badly wrong. The latest selection is Raymond Sky, a “Quad-Core mutant” with titanium-reinforced superstructure, an extra lung that allows brief periods of survival in the vacuum of space, and the equivalent of nuclear-fusion reactors in his body. (In the book’s typically wonky fashion, it’s explained that his father was secretly the Greek god Neptune.) He also has a turtle-shaped helper droid, à la R2-D2, who rides on his back and gives him the nickname “the Camel.” After an abortive career as a treasure hunter, the hapless Ray is groomed to become a secret agent. He’s also inducted into the human elite secret society Scalps and Skeletons and still finds time for a beginning romance. It all ends with his first jump-reactor assignment to signal mankind’s leap from glorified monkeys to citizens of the universe. Needless to say, the overall mission is a bit of a silly one, as is the mystifying series of tasks that Ray must complete in the Scalps and Skeletons recruitment ritual. The secret society also eats up a lot of the book’s narrative bandwidth. The book’s lateral-thinking storyline and quirky sense of humor, however, tend to recall the cult-movie hero of the 1984 sci-fi film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension!. Buckaroo’s credo, “No matter where you go, there you are,” would fit right in with this novel’s prose.

An absurdist sci-fi romp.

Pub Date: May 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-942995-04-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Michael Allen Sales

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2015

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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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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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