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A HISTORY OF WHAT COMES NEXT

From the Take Them to the Stars series , Vol. 1

A flawed beginning to a potentially fascinating science-fiction series.

The first installment in Neuvel’s Take Them to the Stars trilogy is a historical science-fiction thriller set largely in World War II Europe that follows a mother and daughter whose mysterious family’s multigenerational mission is to save humankind.

Mia Freed and her mother, Sarah, are members of the Kibsu, an all-women society whose mysterious origins go back thousands of years to ancient Mesopotamia—and beyond. Generation after generation, the Kibsu consists of a mother-and-daughter team, and their objective never changes: “Take them to the stars, before Evil comes and kills them all.” Pursued across the world by someone known as the Tracker, Mia and her mother must keep one step ahead of their mythical pursuer while also attempting the impossible—to somehow get aerospace engineer Wernher von Braun, a pioneer in rocket technology, out of Nazi Germany before the Russians can get him and his knowledge. As Mia and Sarah struggle to achieve their lifelong task of getting humankind into space, Mia questions her very existence when she falls in love with a young woman who forces her to look at her life, and her suspected extraterrestrial heritage, from a different perspective. With the backdrop of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union adding tension and intrigue, Neuvel weaves a story that’s similar in tone to an X-Files episode, replete with arcane secrets, conspiracy theories, and the possibility of aliens living among us. The real power of this novel, however, lies in the adeptly developed character of Mia and her painful and revelatory journey of self-discovery. The abrupt and unsatisfying conclusion will leave some readers disappointed and others scratching their heads, but the second installment could easily set this saga, which is filled with virtually limitless narrative possibilities, back on track.

A flawed beginning to a potentially fascinating science-fiction series.

Pub Date: Feb. 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26206-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2021

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DEVOLUTION

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. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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THE MINISTRY OF TIME

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

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A time-toying spy romance that’s truly a thriller.

In the author’s note following the moving conclusion of her gripping, gleefully delicious debut novel, Bradley explains how she gathered historical facts about Lt. Graham Gore, a real-life Victorian naval officer and polar explorer, then “extrapolated a great deal” about him to come up with one of her main characters, a curly-haired, chain-smoking, devastatingly charming dreamboat who has been transported through time. Having also found inspiration in the sole extant daguerreotype of Gore, showing him to have been “a very attractive man,” Bradley wrote the earliest draft of the book for a cluster of friends who were similarly passionate about polar explorers. Her finished novel—taut, artfully unspooled, and vividly written—retains the kind of insouciant joy and intimacy you might expect from a book with those origins. It’s also breathtakingly sexy. The time-toggling plot focuses on the plight of a British civil servant who takes a high-paying job on a secret mission, working as a “bridge” to help time-traveling “expats” resettle in 21st-century London—and who falls hard for her charge, the aforementioned Commander Gore. Drama, intrigue, and romance ensue. And while this quasi-futuristic tale of time and tenderness never seems to take itself too seriously, it also offers a meaningful, nuanced perspective on the challenges we face, the choices we make, and the way we live and love today.

This rip-roaring romp pivots between past and present and posits the future-altering power of love, hope, and forgiveness.

Pub Date: May 7, 2024

ISBN: 9781668045145

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2024

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