A few quibbles, but nonetheless an enjoyable read with the potential for an even better sequel.

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THE LAST GUARDIAN OF MAGIC

Megalomaniac Ramius King is poised to conquer the world, with only a broken magician, a traumatized fortuneteller and two teenagers standing in his way.

Seventeen-year-old Kyle Adams doesn’t understand a lot of things: why he dreams of fighting legions of soldiers with magical weapons, why he never fits in, why he has been wrenched from his foster home in Chicago and sent to this backwoods burgh. But he’s happy to discover an affinity with classmate Lily Goodshepherd, who has her own secret—she can perform magic. Across town, Ramius King, the “Tall Man,” has turned an abandoned mill into a monster factory as part of his quest to implant magical skills in his minions, as opposed to relying on his previous tactic of finding humans with organic powers and turning them toward his nefarious ends. In Miami, Rosa Sanchez wakes from a premonitory dream of a mugging and embarks on a path that will lead her to Michael Galladin, a traumatized Guardian of Magic who may be the only obstacle to King’s goal of world domination, especially since King murdered every other Guardian in the world. Fortunately, the Guardians managed to find Kyle and begin his magical path. Andrews’ debut fantasy thriller gets off to a slow start, switching among three plot threads until gathering the protagonists in an obscure northern Michigan town for an explosive climax. The book has a few weaknesses—several characters, like the high school principal and the sinister assassin, are given too much back story for their ultimate importance, and there’s too much explanation of characters’ emotions and reactions instead of letting the actions speak for themselves. Furthermore, the nature of magic in this world is unsatisfyingly vague, as are King’s motives and plans in his unoriginal pursuit of world domination. In many ways, Mason Stone, King’s second-in-command, is the most compelling character in the novel, with his mixed loyalties in shades of gray.

A few quibbles, but nonetheless an enjoyable read with the potential for an even better sequel.

Pub Date: Feb. 18, 2008

ISBN: 978-0595473458

Page Count: 448

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Sept. 12, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2012

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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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A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

TO SLEEP IN A SEA OF STARS

A curious scientist stumbles on mysterious ruins in the opening chapters of this science fiction epic.

Things are really turning around for Kira Navárez. A xenobiologist, she’s finishing up a stint doing research on the large moon Adrasteia with a small team of other scientists, and her boyfriend, Alan, has just proposed to her. Instead of continuing to spend months apart, working on different planets and waiting until they can be together, they'll be able to ask their employers to make them part of a colony as a couple. As Kira performs a few routine last-minute checks before their team leaves the system, something strange catches her eye. She decides to check it out, just to be thorough, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient structure. When her curiosity gets the better of her and she touches a pedestal covered in dust, a bizarre black material flows out and covers her entire body. She passes out as she's being rescued by her team, and when she comes to, she seems to be fine, and the team reports her findings to the government. But soon a kind of strange, alien suit takes over her body, covering her with black material that lashes out violently against Alan and the other scientists, forming spikes that jump out from her skin. A military ship comes to collect what's left of the team and investigate the reports of an alien discovery. When an alien species attacks the ship, presumably because of Kira’s discovery, Kira will have to learn to harness the suit’s strange powers to defend herself and the rest of the human race. Paolini, best known for the YA epic fantasy series The Inheritance Cycle, makes his adult debut in another genre that welcomes long page counts. This one clocks in at close to 900 pages, but the rollicking pace, rapidly developing stakes, and Paolini’s confident worldbuilding make them fly by. Perhaps not the most impressive prose, but a worthwhile adventure story.

A fun, fast-paced epic that science fiction fans will gobble up.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-76284-9

Page Count: 880

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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