Battle plans, not ice, form the new enemy of survival. Well done.

KINGDOM RIVER

VOL. II, THE SNOWFALL TRILOGY

Second in the Snowfall Trilogy, a rousing story of wilderness survival as civilization regresses when a mile-high wall of ice stretches Atlantic to Pacific and book-learning has all but vanished. (One must suspend disbelief that all books were burned for heat while hundreds of millions of people froze.)

During a future epoch, various clans and kingdoms compete for the arable land in southern North America. In Snowfall (2002), we followed the stories of Jack Monroe, once an outcast, and facially scarred Catania Olsen, self-taught doctor to the Colorado Trappers, who join to try to save the Range from the invading Crees, who are themselves fleeing invaders. Moving south through the forest, the Trappers join the Garden tree-dwellers from the Warm time. It’s a generation later than in Snowfall, and the plot begins to fill with familiar fantasy adventure elements at the cost of the original icy backgrounds, though frost and snow still strike. Jack and Catania’s son Sam leads the army of warrior people living between Mexico City and northern Mexico, and they’ve just suffered a big defeat, with worse likely on the way. Khanate nomads, led by Toghrul Khan, who sound much like the Scythians of Russia, have crossed the northern ice and conquered the West Coast. All that lies between the barbarians and Sam’s people is Kingdom River, ruled by Queen Joan. Banding with Kingdom River looks wise, and, to give his smaller nation some stature in Kingdom River, Sam marries the Kingdom’s Princess Rachel. But vast armies sweep toward the Mississippi, and when St. Louis falls, little time is left to reinforce defenses. If Queen Joan dies, will Sam be king? Meanwhile, in New England, embryos in the womb are encouraged to grow wings, not arms, and great anchorages of breastbone muscle, all toward mastering levitation.

Battle plans, not ice, form the new enemy of survival. Well done.

Pub Date: July 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-765-30008-7

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Forge

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2003

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 12

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.

READY PLAYER ONE

Video-game players embrace the quest of a lifetime in a virtual world; screenwriter Cline’s first novel is old wine in new bottles. 

The real world, in 2045, is the usual dystopian horror story. So who can blame Wade, our narrator, if he spends most of his time in a virtual world? The 18-year-old, orphaned at 11, has no friends in his vertical trailer park in Oklahoma City, while the OASIS has captivating bells and whistles, and it’s free. Its creator, the legendary billionaire James Halliday, left a curious will. He had devised an elaborate online game, a hunt for a hidden Easter egg. The finder would inherit his estate. Old-fashioned riddles lead to three keys and three gates. Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, is the first gunter (egg-hunter) to win the Copper Key, first of three. Halliday was obsessed with the pop culture of the 1980s, primarily the arcade games, so the novel is as much retro as futurist. Parzival’s great strength is that he has absorbed all Halliday’s obsessions; he knows by heart three essential movies, crossing the line from geek to freak. His most formidable competitors are the Sixers, contract gunters working for the evil conglomerate IOI, whose goal is to acquire the OASIS. Cline’s narrative is straightforward but loaded with exposition. It takes a while to reach a scene that crackles with excitement: the meeting between Parzival (now world famous as the lead contender) and Sorrento, the head of IOI. The latter tries to recruit Parzival; when he fails, he issues and executes a death threat. Wade’s trailer is demolished, his relatives killed; luckily Wade was not at home. Too bad this is the dramatic high point. Parzival threads his way between more ’80s games and movies to gain the other keys; it’s clever but not exciting. Even a romance with another avatar and the ultimate “epic throwdown” fail to stir the blood.

Too much puzzle-solving, not enough suspense.

Pub Date: Aug. 16, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-307-88743-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2011

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more