by Robert J. Sawyer ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 3, 2012
Sci-fi veteran Sawyer (WWW: Wonder, 2011, etc.) turns in a solid if bland techno-thriller, which hums along nicely until an absurd mystical finale.
A few years in the future, America is under siege from terrorist attacks, which have struck major cities including Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia. As the president prepares to address the nation from the Lincoln Memorial, a would-be assassin strikes, and the president is rushed to the hospital with life-threatening injuries. While surgeons work to save the president’s life, a research scientist in the same building conducts memory experiments on a soldier with post-traumatic stress disorder using a radical new technique. These two events become intertwined when a bomb goes off at the White House, sending out an electromagnetic pulse that amplifies the scientist’s equipment and creates mental linkages among 20 people in the hospital. Each person can now access the memories of one other person, and the Secret Service must protect national security by discovering who is linked to the president. That quest takes up most of the first half of the book, with breaks to examine how the memory linkages have affected various other characters. The eventual answer is a little predictable and anticlimactic, however, and the book’s political-thriller aspects are unexceptional. Sawyer’s writing is functional and colorless, but his characters are engaging enough that seeing how they deal with their newfound memories is engrossing. The story barrels forward quickly with a number of mini-cliffhangers, but by the end Sawyer drops almost all of the lingering plot questions in favor of a rushed, preachy resolution. It negates pretty much all of the interesting scientific concepts he’s raised, substituting in a pseudo-religious awakening that magically solves all of the characters’ problems (as well as humanity’s).
Pub Date: April 3, 2012
Page Count: 336
Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2012
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012
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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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More About This Book
BOOK TO SCREEN
by Blake Crouch ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2016
Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.
A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.
Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.
Pub Date: July 26, 2016
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016
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