A former CIA operative tries to protect his pastor brother’s congregation in an America close to civil war in Nixon’s (The Sea Kings of Rome, 2009) dystopian thriller.

In 2026, the one-time border patrol agent Rick Savage gets wind of a possible civil war in the United States. Some of the Western states have formed the UW (Undivided West) and are planning to secede. But before the U.S. government can send troops to keep them in line, the UW has developed a plan of its own—it’s going to launch eastward a rocket with the ability to devastate electric grids. Rick has two brothers, Chass and Pastor Isaac, who live in Norwich, a city in an unnamed Eastern state, and he warns them of the UW attack. Isaac wants also to give a heads-up to members of his congregation, and Rick reluctantly agrees to his plan. Meanwhile, the new mayor of Norwich—a senator who may have assassinated the old mayor—initiates martial law and takes control of the city by instilling fear in its people. Rick and the congregation decide to fight the mayor and his army if they come for the church members, something they see as inevitable. Nixon excels at establishing a near-future dystopian America, made believable partly by having present-day issues like the crumbling economy play a role in the plot. Nixon also draws parallels with historical events; the mayor’s expanding power leads Rick to equate their situation to Nazi Germany, while the mayor’s soldiers wear red bands on their arms as Adolf Hitler’s legions did. Rick is a cold, emotionless killer when necessary, but he is softened by having lost his wife and son to murder and by some displays of altruism. The book’s latter half is considerably bloodier but keeps its focus on Norwich, providing no updates on the civil war or even confirming that it’s been officially declared. Rick’s story is sufficiently resolved, but there’s much more to tell, including details about the war and a UW leader named Braxton, who, it seems, rose to power by sheer deceit. A small but brawny thriller with religious, political and financial themes.

Pub Date: June 5, 2014


Page Count: 371


Review Posted Online: July 28, 2014

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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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