Next book

FORCE FOR GOOD

A surprisingly upbeat thriller with loads of charm.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

After a young boy is shot and killed, a group of high-school friends wages a digital war against a local gang in Muggington’s (People of the Stones, 2013, etc.) techno-thriller.

A gunshot immediately stops a basketball game in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, and a young man named Clown is devastated to see that his baby brother, Sam, has been killed. Clown’s friend Mountain holds the disreputable Original Young Gangsters responsible for the murder, and proposes a club, Force for Good, to seek justice. The club, including a brilliant computer hacker named Ordinary, decides to nonviolently retaliate in the only way they know how—by using the Internet as a weapon. Muggington offers a buoyant story that, despite its cruel thugs and occasional murders, reads like a YA novel. This is due to the author’s wise decision to tell the tale from the high-schoolers’ perspective; Mountain, for example, considers school a “waste of time,” and the story portrays all adults as useless, from the basketball coach who doesn’t know his players’ names to the New York mayor who’s so inept that an aide has to pull him away from a cluster of reporters. FFG’s digital vengeance is amusingly optimistic, steering clear of cyber attacks and instead putting OYG members in the public spotlight to diminish their street cred. Although Mountain starts the club, Ordinary drives the narrative; his skills eventually catch the attention of both the cops and the National Security Agency. He even gets the best jokes, as when he scoffs at the supposed “geniuses” at an Apple Store before hacking its electronics; when asked by Mountain to “speak English,” he reiterates the same intricate terminology, only slower. The author sprinkles the story with ironic monikers; for example, Sexpot, a female FFG member, infiltrates the OYG without using sex, and Ordinary is anything but. There are also clever, animal-inspired metaphors, as when Mountain pokes his head out of an elevator “like a groundhog in its earthy home checking for predators” or when scrolling numbers on a computer are compared with “ants scattering from the descending doom of a giant shoe.” The ending, however, wraps things up a little too neatly, and may make readers wish that this brief book was a bit longer.

A surprisingly upbeat thriller with loads of charm.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2013

ISBN: 978-1491237304

Page Count: 116

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2013

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 143


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

DEVOLUTION

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

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 143


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • 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

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Next book

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Close Quickview