A brutal political battle that may be too much for some readers.

INDIVISIBLE?

THE STORY OF THE SECOND AMERICAN CIVIL WAR

Midden’s (One Voice Too Many, 2011, etc.) deeply disturbing novel about the fracturing of modern America opens with Joe Biden’s nightmare of Barack Obama’s assassination.

Coming out of the divisive real-life landscape of politics in the past decade, this macabre tale revolves around a U.S.-based insurrection, the likes of which has not been seen since the Civil War. In an attempt to gain power and enable the country to be remade, a handful of influential businessmen, clergymen and others—some of whom fit the M.O. of Donald Trump, Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter—plan the hostile takeover of several key government institutions, including Fort Knox and the Capitol, as well as dissenting men and women, such as some professors and elected officials. Rev. Abner Bellamy of Georgia, brothers George and David Blinder, and Daniel Keenan each undergo the same shirking of faith in government—supposedly emblematic of the real anger of the political right—and lead the rebellious Sovereign Citizens group. Harvey Winkelstein, a gunrunner and physics professor, provides the ammo. On the other side, a handful of valiant operatives under Max Grabel of the CIA, his contract worker Marie LeBrun, and her lover and PI/contract worker, Samantha Stranger, work diligently to find out just who’s leading the scheme and how it can be stopped. Interlaced with informative exposition designed to further detail the political context, the narrative can sometimes sound like a flat professor: “Ultimately, it was this group that determined that the time was ripe for an escalation of hostilities and an outright dismantling of the United States of America.” Overall, though, the plot moves with enough speed to keep readers engaged. With an abrupt cliffhanger, the story doesn’t quite come together in the end—it’s as though readers are watching Zero Dark Thirty without knowing the crucial outcome—but Midden’s underlying aim of establishing the angry, partisan undertones of the current political climate is remarkably effective. This battle isn’t for the faint of heart, however, as the surreal yet eerily plausible extension of current politics will elicits some chills.

A brutal political battle that may be too much for some readers.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2012

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 313

Publisher: Wittmann Blair

Review Posted Online: Jan. 24, 2013

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

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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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