Next book

THE SHADOW OF WAR

THE RISE OF OCEANIA

From the The Rise of Oceania series , Vol. 5

Fans of high-tech SF will enjoy the concepts and worldbuilding here, despite its pacing problems.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

The fifth book in Johnston’s technothriller series sets up the story of an arms race in a future world ravaged by climate crises.

In 2131, Truman “Mac” McClusky is mayor of Trieste, an American underwater city. It’s one of many submerged locales providing kelp and fish to surface-based superpowers, including the United States, China, and Russia, which are rapidly being swallowed up by floods. He’s trying to unite fellow undersea cities to form Oceania, a federation that will give them more leverage. He’s built a coalition of 14 such cities and is looking to get Churchill Sands, with its dynamic mayor, Sahar Noor, to join them. His quest is complicated by recent attempts on his life that have also threatened his girlfriend, Renee.An old friend of his father’s, Richard Lancombe, helps to facilitate the meeting with Noor, as chief security officer Cliff Sim tries to solve the mystery of the assassination attempts. Richard also brings Mac’s attention to a new weapon, the Laser Weapon System Encased Underwater Neutral Particle Beam, which could be used to defend Trieste against submarine attacks; the novel also introduces Chalam Kaashif, a vengeful geologist whose brother and friends were killed by the same weapon. A group that includes Meg, Mac’s sister; weapon inventor Alyssna Sonstraal; and Commodore Bertram A. Clarke, an officer from Britain’s submarine fleet, undertake a mission to recover the four parts of Alyssna’s creation in different undersea cities and submarines. Johnston presents readers with a diverse set of characters, along with a complicated world for them to navigate. The novel shines when describing the technology, as when the characters discuss the beam weapon, nicknamed “The Water Pick.” Where this book stumbles is in its pacing and characterization. Perhaps because it’s the fifth book in the series, there’s a steady flow of backstory that disrupts the plot’s forward momentum. There’s a lot of potential in these characters, but they often come off as one-note (exemplified by Chalam’s constant chant that he wants revenge),which makes them overly predictable.

Fans of high-tech SF will enjoy the concepts and worldbuilding here, despite its pacing problems.

Pub Date: Dec. 15, 2022

ISBN: 9781554556007

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Fitzhenry and Whiteside

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 163


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 163


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • 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

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

Next book

FOURTH WING

From the Empyrean series , Vol. 1

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

On the orders of her mother, a woman goes to dragon-riding school.

Even though her mother is a general in Navarre’s army, 20-year-old Violet Sorrengail was raised by her father to follow his path as a scribe. After his death, though, Violet's mother shocks her by forcing her to enter the elite and deadly dragon rider academy at Basgiath War College. Most students die at the War College: during training sessions, at the hands of their classmates, or by the very dragons they hope to one day be paired with. From Day One, Violet is targeted by her classmates, some because they hate her mother, others because they think she’s too physically frail to succeed. She must survive a daily gauntlet of physical challenges and the deadly attacks of classmates, which she does with the help of secret knowledge handed down by her two older siblings, who'd been students there before her. Violet is at the mercy of the plot rather than being in charge of it, hurtling through one obstacle after another. As a result, the story is action-packed and fast-paced, but Violet is a strange mix of pure competence and total passivity, always managing to come out on the winning side. The book is categorized as romantasy, with Violet pulled between the comforting love she feels from her childhood best friend, Dain Aetos, and the incendiary attraction she feels for family enemy Xaden Riorson. However, the way Dain constantly undermines Violet's abilities and his lack of character development make this an unconvincing storyline. The plots and subplots aren’t well-integrated, with the first half purely focused on Violet’s training, followed by a brief detour for romance, and then a final focus on outside threats.

Read this for the action-packed plot, not character development or worldbuilding.

Pub Date: May 2, 2023

ISBN: 9781649374042

Page Count: 528

Publisher: Red Tower

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2024

Close Quickview