An entertaining, if sometimes frustrating, tale about the worst- and best-case scenarios facing America.




In this debut thriller, an unlikely group of heroes tries to avert a nuclear war during a coup in the United States.

Fourteen-year-old Thomas lives near Ann Arbor, Michigan. One night, his large red dog, Elmo, wakes him from a sound sleep by gnawing on his leg. Elmo then drags Thomas downstairs, where he discovers his home trashed, with furniture overturned and papers scattered everywhere. His parents are also missing. Worsening the nightmare, Thomas finds a dying man on the living room floor who says not to get the police but “get to Ann Arbor. Find Jacob.” Jacob is the brother of the boy’s father. Before expiring, the stranger tells Thomas to open the safe in his parents’ room. Inside is a large yellow envelope; he runs with it to the apartment of his friend Veronica’s father. Mr. Davis is away on business, but when Thomas eventually meets Veronica, she says that her mother never picked her up from school. Just then, a trio of menacing men approaches from the elevators. The teens and Elmo escape down the fire escape and drive off in Mr. Davis’ car. Inside the envelope is a package of technical schematics that only confuses them more. When they reach a rest stop, they encounter the three men again. This time, a tranquilizer gun prevents the kids from running. Though Shurtliff keeps readers guessing at the focus of his adrenaline-fueled tale, it is clear that Thomas and Veronica are at the center of nothing less than a conspiracy to overthrow the U.S. The aggressively backfilled plot includes operation Enduring Freedom, which can collect, analyze, and manipulate information on a global scale from 11 control centers in the Midwestern U.S. Naturally, a shadow operation—run by brilliant rogue Reginald Gibion—takes Enduring Freedom’s potential for thwarting terror and twists it against the nation’s integrity. Shurtliff hopes to please both YA and adult audiences (he includes cyborgs and a secret formula to make nukes less deadly), but the result is chaotically paced and glosses over much of the fallout from an extraordinarily high-stakes story.

An entertaining, if sometimes frustrating, tale about the worst- and best-case scenarios facing America.

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: 192

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 15, 2018

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


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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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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