Lazos (Six Sisters, 2015, etc.) mixes childhood genius, corporate corruption, and the paranormal in this science thriller.
While the oil business is a fraught enterprise, few expect any danger from that industry to follow them to American soil, much less to their own homes. The Tirabi children—Avery, Kori, Robbie, and Gil—and David “Hart” Hartos know better. Gil has a premonition that allows the kids to escape their home just before it’s burgled and bombed, while their parents are run off the road and killed. But Gil’s unusual gifts don’t end there, as his brilliant mind and connection with his father’s spirit allow him to continue work on the man’s final invention: the Thermo-Depolymerization Unit, a machine that converts any carbon-based matter into oil. Meanwhile, Hart is reeling from the deaths of his wife and unborn child and finds no relief in his engineering efforts for Akanabi Oil. Not only is his boss his late wife’s father, but a rash of oil spills only belies the real problem: oil is running out, and a global catastrophe is imminent. When Hart and Gil meet, it’s no wonder they experience a kinship and join forces to complete the TDU and unravel the mysteries of their own personal tragedies and the depths of the world of oil. It’s easy for a science thriller to get too bogged down in theory and explanations to have a real story or, conversely, to use weak technical details as a backdrop for inferior drama. Thankfully, this surprising novel deftly avoids both pitfalls. The science is compelling and balances supporting the narrative with providing relevant real-world context while the tale possesses a depth of emotion rarely seen in this genre. The two sides actually support each other. The realities of a coming oil crisis give both characters and readers something to fear, and touches like the medical and forensic perspective on Hart’s wife’s death manage to be haunting and affecting, not just clinical. Finally, the characters are a genuine delight, all with their own voices and relationships—an especially impressive feat with four children ranging from age 11 to young adulthood.
An insightful, emotional, and deeply relevant novel about an oil industry conspiracy.