This mashup of medical and media ethics, politics and the living undead, is a whip-smart thriller overflowing with sharp...

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From the Newsflesh series , Vol. 4

A U.S. presidential campaign set in a zombie-infested future bears an eerie resemblance to the way we live now.

Aislinn “Ash” North and her housemates hope to hit the big time with their blogging skills when they apply to manage media for a Republican presidential candidate. Not surprisingly, “an Irish expatriate, a black man, a lesbian, and a techie who didn’t want to be nailed down to a gender” prove to be a bad fit for the GOP, but the friends are shocked when the Democratic nominee, a woman in possession of a blue pantsuit, reaches out. Things get complicated when zombies start disrupting campaign stops. It’s clear they’ve been planted—literally in one case, in Portland’s famous rose gardens—by someone out to affect the election. Author Grant juggles multiple themes in this addition to the Newsflesh series. The virus that spread to create zombies was designed to cure cancer and succeeded; flesh-eating monsters are no fun at a picnic, but they help with population control. The story is steeped in paranoia, be it between rival news factions or individuals versus the invasive and unending security procedures in place to preserve the uninfected. And the fear is warranted; secrets are revealed, people are betrayed, and terrible losses result. The diversity of Ash’s chosen family, not just in terms of race and gender but in their varied blogger castes, makes their discussion of the issues that arise substantive and deep. Readers new to the series may worry that they’re missing things, but the action comes so hard and fast it’s best to simply jump in and enjoy. Set in 2040, this story feels very current.

This mashup of medical and media ethics, politics and the living undead, is a whip-smart thriller overflowing with sharp ideas and social commentary.

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-316-37934-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Orbit/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Aug. 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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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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DUNE

This future space fantasy might start an underground craze.

It feeds on the shades of Edgar Rice Burroughs (the Martian series), Aeschylus, Christ and J.R. Tolkien. The novel has a closed system of internal cross-references, and features a glossary, maps and appendices dealing with future religions and ecology. Dune itself is a desert planet where a certain spice liquor is mined in the sands; the spice is a supremely addictive narcotic and control of its distribution means control of the universe. This at a future time when the human race has reached a point of intellectual stagnation. What is needed is a Messiah. That's our hero, called variously Paul, then Muad'Dib (the One Who Points the Way), then Kwisatz Haderach (the space-time Messiah). Paul, who is a member of the House of Atreides (!), suddenly blooms in his middle teens with an ability to read the future and the reader too will be fascinated with the outcome of this projection.

With its bug-eyed monsters, one might think Dune was written thirty years ago; it has a fantastically complex schemata and it should interest advanced sci-fi devotees.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 1965

ISBN: 0441013597

Page Count: 411

Publisher: Chilton

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1965

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