Mr. Gould, please write faster.

IMPULSE

The third of a well-regarded series (that inspired a poorly regarded film) is essentially Teleporting: The Next Generation, as Davy and Millie Rice’s daughter Cent discovers that she, too, can “jump.”

Years after teleporter Davy Rice was captured by a mysterious corporation (Reflex, 2004), he remains paranoid that they’ll find him or his loved ones again. He and his wife, Millie, live off the grid in a nearly inaccessible lodge 60 miles from the Arctic Circle, home-schooling their 16-year-old daughter and strongly discouraging her from developing relationships with others. Cent’s unhappiness with the status quo finally persuades her parents to purchase a home in a small town and enroll her in high school. Of course, the Rices’ pretense at a normal life doesn’t last long. Like her parents, who covertly teleport to spearhead relief efforts all over the globe, Cent has compulsive heroic tendencies. She simply can’t resist employing her newly developed teleporting ability against Caffeine, the school bully who’s blackmailing three freshman into serving as drug mules. Davy’s overprotectiveness of his daughter will be most amusing to series fans—as a 17-year-old in Jumper (1992), he was robbing banks and fighting terrorists. One of the strongest aspects of the series is its serious attempt to explore and exploit the possibilities of teleporting (and how to circumvent them), and Cent’s experiments to add velocity to her jumps add velocity to the plot. Readers will cheer for sympathetic Cent, but she’s a bit too perfect; despite her extraordinarily isolated upbringing and claims of social awkwardness, her insightfulness about people is incredibly high, and she’s unreasonably able at negotiating the dating scene. Ultimately, though, this is a great romp with a little social conscience–raising mixed in.

Mr. Gould, please write faster.

Pub Date: Jan. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-7653-2757-4

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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The flashy, snappy delivery fails to compensate for the uninhabited blandness of the characters. And despite the many clever...

SNOW CRASH

After terminally cute campus high-jinks (The Big U) and a smug but attention-grabbing eco-thriller (Zodiac), Stephenson leaps into near-future Gibsonian cyberpunk—with predictably mixed results.

The familiar-sounding backdrop: The US government has been sold off; businesses are divided up into autonomous franchises ("franchulates") visited by kids from the heavily protected independent "Burbclaves"; a computer-generated "metaverse" is populated by hackers and roving commercials. Hiro Protagonist, freelance computer hacker, world's greatest swordsman, and stringer for the privatized CIA, delivers pizzas for the Mafia—until his mentor Da5id is blasted by Snow Crash, a curious new drug capable of crashing both computers and hackers. Hiro joins forces with freelance skateboard courier Y.T. to investigate. It emerges that Snow Crash is both a drug and a virus: it destroyed ancient Sumeria by randomizing their language to create Babel; its modern victims speak in tongues, lose their critical faculties, and are easily brainwashed. Eventually the usual conspiracy to take over the world emerges; it's led by media mogul L. Bob Rife, the Rev. Wayne's Pearly Gates religious franchulate, and vengeful nuclear terrorist Raven. The cultural-linguistic material has intrinsic interest, but its connections with cyberpunk and computer-reality seem more than a little forced.

The flashy, snappy delivery fails to compensate for the uninhabited blandness of the characters. And despite the many clever embellishments, none of the above is as original as Stephenson seems to think. An entertaining entry that would have benefitted from a more rigorous attention to the basics.

Pub Date: May 15, 1992

ISBN: 0553380958

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

RED RISING

From the Red Rising Trilogy series , Vol. 1

Set in the future and reminiscent of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones, this novel dramatizes a story of vengeance, warfare and the quest for power.

In the beginning, Darrow, the narrator, works in the mines on Mars, a life of drudgery and subservience. He’s a member of the Reds, an “inferior” class, though he’s happily married to Eo, an incipient rebel who wants to overthrow the existing social order, especially the Golds, who treat the lower-ranking orders cruelly. When Eo leads him to a mildly rebellious act, she’s caught and executed, and Darrow decides to exact vengeance on the perpetrators of this outrage. He’s recruited by a rebel cell and “becomes” a Gold by having painful surgery—he has golden wings grafted on his back—and taking an exam to launch himself into the academy that educates the ruling elite. Although he successfully infiltrates the Golds, he finds the social order is a cruel and confusing mash-up of deception and intrigue. Eventually, he leads one of the “houses” in war games that are all too real and becomes a guerrilla warrior leading a ragtag band of rebelliously minded men and women. Although it takes a while, the reader eventually gets used to the specialized vocabulary of this world, where warriors shoot “pulseFists” and are protected by “recoilArmor.” As with many similar worlds, the warrior culture depicted here has a primitive, even classical, feel to it, especially since the warriors sport names such as Augustus, Cassius, Apollo and Mercury.

A fine novel for those who like to immerse themselves in alternative worlds.

Pub Date: Jan. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-345-53978-6

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Nov. 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2013

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