Solidly engrossing fare for the series’ faithful.


From the Chronicle of the Fallers series , Vol. 1

Doorstopper—not that Hamilton writes anything else—first entry of a new two-book saga set in his popular Commonwealth universe (The Evolutionary Void, 2010, etc.).

The Void, an enigmatic space-time construct at the core of the galaxy, is difficult to penetrate and—apparently—impossible to escape from. Worse, at any moment it may expand uncontrollably and swallow all life in the galaxy. The Void’s boundaries are guarded by the elephantlike Raiel in a million-year-long vigil. In the year 3326, Nigel Sheldon, 1,000 years old and one of the founders of the Commonwealth, receives a visit from Vallar, a Raiel, who persuades him to help develop a scheme to infiltrate the Void. The only knowledge of conditions inside the Void comes from the Dreamer, Edeard of planet Querencia, who unfortunately is dead. Once the Raiel punch Nigel through into the Void, a Skylord, one of a space-going alien race that act as conductors of souls inside the Void, leads him to Bienvenido, a planet whose human civilization derives from a colony expedition that vanished from the Commonwealth 200 years ago. He learns several crucial facts: Here in the Void, mental powers such as telepathy work, a limited form of time travel is possible, and the planet suffers relentless assaults from the Fallers, a cannibalistic alien species of biological mimics. In order to test his theories of how the Void might be destroyed, Nigel needs to learn what the locals know. Unfortunately, their civilization is corrupt, sclerotic, totalitarian and, understandably, paranoid about the Faller threat. The characters, always Hamilton’s strength, remain as distinctive as ever, even when the book’s taken over by what at first glance seems only a subplot. And even when the ideas are shaky, there’s always the time-travel gimmick to iron out any wrinkles.

Solidly engrossing fare for the series’ faithful.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-54719-4

Page Count: 640

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

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
  • 42

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller


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.


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