A well-paced action thriller with a wide-eyed premise that works hard to shake readers awake.


In this cinematic thriller, crippling insomnia infects the tourists and residents of a small town following the appearance of a mysteriously silent orphan.

Like most out-of-balance tourist towns that bustle a few months out of the year, Carratuck Island is heavy with “the uneasy tolerance between sulky islanders trapped in service jobs and finicky, demanding tourists who have planned and saved for a few days of having their way, right now and just so.” It’s also a place of rampant mobile-device addiction. Blank-faced tourists bathe in the glow of iPads rather than sunsets. Tensions in town come to a boil when locals and tourists begin losing sleep and take desperate measures to turn themselves off with some sleep. Freirich (Winged Creatures, 2008) favors a wide shot, and this cinematic follow-up to his successful debut novel (which was turned into the 2008 film Fragments) unfolds in multiple perspectives. Sam Carlson, once a hotshot Boston psychiatrist and now haunted by a patient’s suicide, has worked as a physician on the island for a year, his job consisting mostly of treating “the heaves from a bad steamer clam, or alcohol poisoning.” When an expressionless child appears, addicted to a handheld video game and marred by some unknown grief, Sam attempts to find the boy’s parents in addition to battling his own guilt; he’s in an increasingly hallucinatory state of mind. Meanwhile, Cort, a Twitter-addicted adolescent, has ditched her clueless mother to smoke pot with a surfer boyfriend. The most fascinating character of the bunch, she plays a curious sort of game in which the participants must tweet every 15 minutes for 43 straight hours. It’s a solid if somewhat heavy-handed metaphor: “The billions of synapses of our brains finally become like the binary bits of all we listened to or looked at, on/off, awake or dead, no in between.” The writing can be somewhat preachy, though the shifting point of view and long passages of action—such as a sequence in which the police chief wanders the beach in the rain—seem easily translatable to the screen.

A well-paced action thriller with a wide-eyed premise that works hard to shake readers awake. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 315

Publisher: Meerkat Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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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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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.


Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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