This book’s swift pace and passionate characters make up for a familiar premise.

SAND RUNNER

A young man must brave exceedingly treacherous courses and fierce, deadly competitors to win a popular footrace in Brook’s YA dystopian sci-fi debut.

Through sheer determination, Kai Reed finally crosses the finish line first at an annual local run in the Valley, earning a kiss from a beautiful woman named Sara. But an even bigger reward awaits: a chance to participate in the No Limits Race, a worldwide phenomenon featuring 10 runners on 10 different courses in as many days. The prize for the winner is no less than a life of luxury. Kai is recruited (via drone) by Emily Starr, an agent at an athletic management firm, and she quickly secures a sponsor for him. Kai soon agrees to undergo major surgery that makes him “part human, part machine.” Assisted by Emily, technician Andy, and machinery designer Neen, Kai preps for races on varying terrain, including on ice and on the walls of abandoned buildings. In the ensuing weeks, he falls for his demanding but alluring agent. The impending race is unquestionably perilous, and some competitors have lost more than just their pride in the past. But Kai also worries about Emily—does she reciprocate his romantic feelings, or does she have another agenda? Sci-fi plots that focus on brutal contests have been done many times before, but Brook manages to inject plenty of romance and satire into her story. The developing relationship between Kai and Emily is gradual and convincing, and the author also effectively lampoons the media along the way; at one point, for instance, televised coverage is edited to make an unscrupulous runner look honorable. The simple, no-nonsense prose, concise paragraphs, and short chapters keep the story bouncing along. Orphaned Kai is a smart and resilient character, but he’s not quite as intriguing as others, including Emily, who has a murky history; Kai’s elderly neighbor, Ron, who’s indifferent to the race; and Venus, who’s the race’s sole female competitor.

This book’s swift pace and passionate characters make up for a familiar premise.

Pub Date: June 2, 2017

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 249

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

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

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DEVOLUTION

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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