Pure, unadulterated literary escapism featuring giant killer robots and the looming end of humankind. In a word:...

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WAKING GODS

From the The Themis Files series , Vol. 2

A brazen fusion of science fiction and apocalyptic thriller, the second installment in Neuvel’s Themis Files (Sleeping Giants, 2016) is powered by nonstop action and adventure involving alien invaders and an army of seemingly indestructible giant robots—but ultimately it’s also a deeply character-driven exploration of what it means to be human.

After finding alien artifacts that turned out to be pieces of a colossal, vaguely human-looking robot, physicist Rose Franklin and other members of the newly formed Earth Defense Corps have been relentlessly studying the advanced technology that runs the structure. Army pilot Kara Resnik and Quebecois linguist Vincent Couture have made great strides in deciphering the alien symbols and can now move the robot (named Themis) with some level of skill. Scientists theorize that Themis was left on Earth to protect humankind from future invasion, but when giant robots begin appearing all over the world and exterminating humans by the millions, Franklin and company are forced to try to understand the motives behind the mass slaughter before it’s too late. The reason this audacious story works so well is because the author blends the intellectual tone and thematic depth of classic SF works like Frederik Pohl’s Gateway (which deals with humans trying to unlock advanced alien technology) with the B-movie campiness and childlike sense of wonder associated with piloting a 20-story-tall metallic giant. Additionally, the ensemble cast is impressively authentic—they're not just two-dimensional, contrived plot devices. The depth of character development mirrors the complexity of the storyline, which is filled with numerous bombshell plot twists. And although the end is more than satisfying, Neuvel offers a glimpse into the next series installment, which promises to be even more enthralling.

Pure, unadulterated literary escapism featuring giant killer robots and the looming end of humankind. In a word: unputdownable.

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-88672-4

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2017

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Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

THE SILENT PATIENT

A woman accused of shooting her husband six times in the face refuses to speak.

"Alicia Berenson was thirty-three years old when she killed her husband. They had been married for seven years. They were both artists—Alicia was a painter, and Gabriel was a well-known fashion photographer." Michaelides' debut is narrated in the voice of psychotherapist Theo Faber, who applies for a job at the institution where Alicia is incarcerated because he's fascinated with her case and believes he will be able to get her to talk. The narration of the increasingly unrealistic events that follow is interwoven with excerpts from Alicia's diary. Ah, yes, the old interwoven diary trick. When you read Alicia's diary you'll conclude the woman could well have been a novelist instead of a painter because it contains page after page of detailed dialogue, scenes, and conversations quite unlike those in any journal you've ever seen. " 'What's the matter?' 'I can't talk about it on the phone, I need to see you.' 'It's just—I'm not sure I can make it up to Cambridge at the minute.' 'I'll come to you. This afternoon. Okay?' Something in Paul's voice made me agree without thinking about it. He sounded desperate. 'Okay. Are you sure you can't tell me about it now?' 'I'll see you later.' Paul hung up." Wouldn't all this appear in a diary as "Paul wouldn't tell me what was wrong"? An even more improbable entry is the one that pins the tail on the killer. While much of the book is clumsy, contrived, and silly, it is while reading passages of the diary that one may actually find oneself laughing out loud.

Amateurish, with a twist savvy readers will see coming from a mile away.

Pub Date: Feb. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-30169-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Celadon Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

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Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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