Both a paean to the sci-fi genre and a captivating return to a space station in a complex universe.

Bud by the Grace of God

SEQUEL TO WELCOME TO THE MADHOUSE

This second volume in Sasaki’s (Welcome to the Madhouse, 2015) Grace Lord series finds the surgeon confronting a strange new intelligence and an old nemesis.

Following the defeat of a deadly virus in the first installment, Grace continues to serve on the medical space station Nelson Mandela, attending to soldiers of the Union of Solar Systems. As a normal routine returns to the lives of Dr. Hiro Al-Fadi (Grace’s boss) and Bud (a singularly capable and handsome android devoted to her), the station receives a visit from famous vid star and director Jude Luis Stefansson. When Grace meets Jude, she learns that he isn’t heroically gorgeous like his fictional creation, Jazz Hazard, but rather a regular, middle-aged man. Jude is at the station because he’s heard of a process by which the mind can be transferred to a robust, new android body. The staff informs him that the experimental technology is not for private use, for any price. Elsewhere, a ghostly presence stalks the station’s corridors, undetectable by the artificial intelligence running the Nelson Mandela. When a murder occurs outside the armory, thoughts turn to the vile Dr. Jeffrey Nestor, who’s sworn revenge on Grace and Bud for their roles in thwarting him during the viral outbreak. For this sci-fi sequel, Sasaki returns with all the winning elements that fans of Star Trekand Isaac Asimov should love, including a large, snarky cast; a robot conflicted by his burgeoning humanity; and animal-adapted soldiers (treated by the station’s dedicated doctors). Sasaki once more explores the ethics of sentient robots and expanded human consciousness in lines like “Does your android, who feels, thinks, remembers just like you, have any rights at all?” The author also treats lovers of sci-fi horror to a brief splatterfest reminiscent of the film Alienbut ultimately introduces a new intelligence to the cast. Throughout, Sasaki displays a propulsive inventiveness as she weaves grand ideas with humor and soul.

Both a paean to the sci-fi genre and a captivating return to a space station in a complex universe.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 365

Publisher: Oddoc Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2016

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

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

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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