Extraordinary characters steer a taut, rousing futuristic tale.

THE FINAL WARS BEGIN

From the Final Wars Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In this debut sci-fi novel, a military officer wanted for murder in the early 23rd century tries to prevent a war between human colonies.

Lt. Gen. Bastien Lyons is hiding in New Paris, the human colony on post–World War III Earth. After defying an order that would have resulted in the deaths of innocents, Bastien resisted arrest and killed five men in self-defense. But the individuals who finally capture him don’t take him to the Martian colony, Port Sydney, where his superior, Gen. Crone, awaits. Bastien instead is the prisoner of New Paris’ Queen Marie Dubois. She attained her royal title by killing her father, and now Marie wants to use Bastien to assassinate her elusive sister, Belle, the throne’s rightful heir. Not handing over Bastien—a wanted criminal—to Crone violates the colonies’ treaty, which also includes Nippon One on Earth’s moon. The breach could ignite a war with Port Sydney, which is exactly what Marie wants. When Belle gets wind of her potential assassin, she intends to turn Bastien against Marie, primarily to maintain peace between the colonies. But Cube, a humanoid robot Crone sends to hunt Bastien, is a 7-foot-tall snag in everyone’s plans, and war may be unavoidable. In this first installment of a trilogy, Asthana deftly manages multiple characters in a sci-fi–flavored espionage story. Motivations, for example, make sense, particularly the reasons both sisters use Bastien rather than simply attacking each other. Alternating perspectives showcase superb characters, with Marie and Cube as standouts. Cube attempts to comprehend human feelings through music while its own emotions appear as data files (“>EMOTION = frustration.dat”). Marie is a metal-tentacled cyborg who, in her opening scene, kills and cannibalizes her lover. Although this book is a quick read, the author packs the narrative with plot developments: shifting alliances, shocking deaths, and scenes unfolding on all three colonies. At least one of those deaths is disappointing, but that won’t likely dampen readers’ expectations for the sequel.

Extraordinary characters steer a taut, rousing futuristic tale.

Pub Date: March 1, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Feb. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 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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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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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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