by Rob Hart ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 22, 2022
Funny, thrilling, poignant, and profound.
Timey-wimey mysteries vex a singular hotel’s damaged in-house detective.
In 2072, those with hundreds of thousands of dollars to spare can use the federally owned Einstein Intercentury Timeport to see Shakespeare stage Hamlet, watch the Battle of Gettysburg, or witness countless other bygone events. A tram ride away from Einstein is the Paradox Hotel, where guests can obtain costuming, earpiece translators, and era-specific vaccines. Individual “flights” are relatively safe, but frequent travel can be risky; just ask former time cop January Cole, who spent her early career riding the timestream to prevent tourists from altering history and is now Unstuck, a condition that causes her perception to—temporarily and without warning—jump into her past or future. January left the field years ago to police the Paradox, but though the move has done little to slow her ailment’s progression, she refuses to retire, as her slips often provide glimpses of her late girlfriend, Mena, who used to work on-site. The U.S. government is hemorrhaging money, so a senator and four trillionaires are holding a summit at the Paradox to discuss Einstein’s privatization. The security logistics alone are a nightmare, but factor in strange time fluctuations and a phantom corpse in Room 526 and you have the recipe for a disaster only January can thwart—provided her mind stays put. Inventive action, breakneck pacing, and a delightfully acerbic yet achingly vulnerable first-person-present narration distinguish this speculative noir stunner, which meditates on grief while exploring issues of inequity and determinism. The worldbuilding can feel hand-wavy, and the supporting cast is so large as to occasionally confuse, but on balance, Hart delivers a riveting read likely to win him scores of new fans.Funny, thrilling, poignant, and profound.
Pub Date: Feb. 22, 2022
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: Jan. 11, 2022
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2022
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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BOOK TO SCREEN
by John Scalzi ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 19, 2023
Fun while it lasts but not one of Scalzi’s stronger books.
Some people are born supervillains, and others have supervillainy thrust upon them.
Charlie Fitzer, a former business journalist–turned–substitute teacher, is broke and somewhat desperate. His circumstances take an unexpected and dangerous turn when his estranged uncle Jake dies, leaving his business—i.e., his trillion-dollar supervillain empire—to Charlie. Charlie doesn’t really have the skills or experience to manage the staff of the volcano lair, and matters don’t improve when he’s pressured to attend a high-level meeting with other supervillains, none of whom got along with his uncle. With the aid of his uncle’s No. 1, Mathilda Morrison, and his cat, Hera (who turns out to be an intelligent and typing-capable spy for his uncle’s organization), Charlie must sort out whom he can trust before he gets blackmailed, blown up, or both. This book serves as a follow-up of sorts to Scalzi’s The Kaiju Preservation Society (2022) in that both are riffs on genre film tropes. The current work is fluffier and sillier than the previous novel and, indeed, many of Scalzi’s other books, although there is the occasional jab about governments being in bed with unscrupulous corporate enterprises or the ways in which people can profit from human suffering. This is one of many available stories about a good-hearted Everyman thrust into fantastical circumstances, struggling to survive as a fish out of water, and, while well executed for its type, the plot doesn’t go anywhere that will surprise you.Fun while it lasts but not one of Scalzi’s stronger books.
Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2023
Page Count: 272
Review Posted Online: June 8, 2023
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2023
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