Intriguing and with plenty of room to grow.

Parish Jeppa Goes Wrong

Nelson’s (Target Audience, 2013) dark satire takes readers into the world of the Wrongboys, a confederation of freethinkers who rebel against a dystopia in which reality is embellished and controlled by computer applications plugged into one’s brain.

Busted for his addiction to black market “think-apps,” disgraced investigator Parish Jeppa is given a chance to regain his job and his beloved apps; but first he must infiltrate the mysterious and flamboyant Wrongboys, those “arrogant, zipster Luddites,” according to Lt. Duglass Deen. The Wrongboys’ outrageous dress resembles something like Kesey’s Merry Pranksters, and while they might be considered innocuous, self-indulgent hedonists, the authorities think otherwise. Commentary on today’s device-addicted culture abounds when, deprived of his dictionary think-app, Jeppa can’t figure out what a Luddite is. One can’t blame him for his addiction; think-apps enable users to experience nearly any emotion or sensation and to enter virtual worlds. Unfortunately, Jeppa never describes any place of interest to which think-apps have taken him, nor is reality portrayed as something so insipid that it needs spicing up. Yet, without think-apps at his disposal, Jeppa feels he’s “thinking into a void,” and as he goes through withdrawal, he sees the world as a “giant, elaborate toy with no batteries.” Since the Wrongboys eschew their MindPlant and communicate offline, Jeppa must go analog and do some old-school gumshoeing. He dons a lion tamer’s outfit, bones up on their “dippy lingo,” and pounds the pavement until he’s accepted and admitted to the inner circle. Once Jeppa gets a taste of Wrongboy culture and the people who inhabit it, it’ll take no enhanced vision to see that Jeppa discovers that unadorned reality might be more stimulating than he imagined. Confident and well-plotted, this brief story could have benefited from added plot and character development, and readers will be ready and waiting for more from Nelson.

Intriguing and with plenty of room to grow.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2015

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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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