by Tade Thompson ‧ RELEASE DATE: Oct. 26, 2021
Gripping and bloody as a beating heart but with a strong need for follow up.
A seemingly routine interstellar mission goes terribly wrong—of course.
Michelle “Shell” Campion, first mate on the ship Ragtime, expects to take a fairly nominal role in the journey to the planetary colony of Bloodroot; after all, the ship’s AI will handle everything. But she wakes from 10 years of cold sleep at the end of her journey to discover the AI stripped of its higher functions and 31 of the slumbering passengers murdered and dismembered by the service bots. Her mayday call is answered by Rasheed Fin, a disgraced investigator from Bloodroot, and his Artificial partner, Salvo, who wonder if Shell herself might be the guilty party. Certainly, the killer still appears to be onboard and is continuing to sabotage the ship’s systems. Aided by the investigative team and a more recently arrived duo—Lawrence Biz, a retired astronaut, old friend of Shell's family, and governor of neighboring space station Lagos, and his half-human daughter, Joké—they must somehow find the murderous saboteur, secure the ship, and ensure the safe arrival of the surviving colonists. Although the story bears some elements of a locked-room mystery, Agatha Christie fans will be disappointed: The author doesn’t provide readers with sufficient clues to solve the crime, instead preferring to provide the majority of the revelations midway through the book. As such, the novel is less of a puzzle and more of a genuinely exciting race against time with some mystery elements, a thriller/horror-aboard-a-spaceship in the vein of Greg Bear’s Hull Zero Three, Sean Danker’s Admiral, and, of course, the classic film Alien. Thompson also has some sharp and relevant things to say about technocrats with less than savory sources for their wealth who engage in messy personal relationships, enjoy showy toys, and try to buy themselves out of trouble. Considerably less drenched in the hallucinatory than Thompson's Wormwood trilogy, the story does veer unexpectedly toward the supernatural at the end, giving it an open-ended feel. Other aspects of the plot could use more fleshing out. Given Thompson’s penchant for series, might subsequent books be expected?Gripping and bloody as a beating heart but with a strong need for follow up.
Pub Date: Oct. 26, 2021
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: Aug. 17, 2021
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021
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by Max Brooks ‧ RELEASE DATE: June 16, 2020
A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
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
Page Count: 304
Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine
Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020
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More About This Book
BOOK TO SCREEN
by Blake Crouch ‧ RELEASE DATE: July 26, 2016
Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.
A man walks out of a bar and his life becomes a kaleidoscope of altered states in this science-fiction thriller.
Crouch opens on a family in a warm, resonant domestic moment with three well-developed characters. At home in Chicago’s Logan Square, Jason Dessen dices an onion while his wife, Daniela, sips wine and chats on the phone. Their son, Charlie, an appealing 15-year-old, sketches on a pad. Still, an undertone of regret hovers over the couple, a preoccupation with roads not taken, a theme the book will literally explore, in multifarious ways. To start, both Jason and Daniela abandoned careers that might have soared, Jason as a physicist, Daniela as an artist. When Charlie was born, he suffered a major illness. Jason was forced to abandon promising research to teach undergraduates at a small college. Daniela turned from having gallery shows to teaching private art lessons to middle school students. On this bracing October evening, Jason visits a local bar to pay homage to Ryan Holder, a former college roommate who just received a major award for his work in neuroscience, an honor that rankles Jason, who, Ryan says, gave up on his career. Smarting from the comment, Jason suffers “a sucker punch” as he heads home that leaves him “standing on the precipice.” From behind Jason, a man with a “ghost white” face, “red, pursed lips," and "horrifying eyes” points a gun at Jason and forces him to drive an SUV, following preset navigational directions. At their destination, the abductor forces Jason to strip naked, beats him, then leads him into a vast, abandoned power plant. Here, Jason meets men and women who insist they want to help him. Attempting to escape, Jason opens a door that leads him into a series of dark, strange, yet eerily familiar encounters that sometimes strain credibility, especially in the tale's final moments.Suspenseful, frightening, and sometimes poignant—provided the reader has a generously willing suspension of disbelief.
Pub Date: July 26, 2016
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: May 3, 2016
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2016
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