The potential for some interesting ideas languishes in a half-built world populated with barely sketched characters.

WILDERS

The first of a near-future series about an uneasy balance between city and country.

Sisters Lou and Coryn Williams live in Seacouver, a vast megacity that incorporates Seattle, Vancouver, and the small cities in between. Desperately unhappy with city life for some ill-defined reason, their parents kill themselves in a mutual suicide pact, landing the teenagers in an orphanage (although the megacity is technologically advanced, their social services seem primitive). Lou is overjoyed when she scores a plum opportunity as a rewilder, a rehabilitator of environmental damage outside the city, but Coryn is devastated to lose her only family. For two years, Lou sends infrequent, blandly cheerful emails to Coryn. Determined to find both her sister and the truth, Coryn departs Seacouver as soon as she comes of age, accompanied by her personal robot Paula and a dangerous level of naiveté about the world Outside. On her journey, she encounters dangerous weather, some new friends, opportunists who want to kill her and steal her valuable robot, and zealots of various stripes and unclear motivations who pose a danger both to the city and the barely rewilded landscape. Cooper (Spear of Light, 2016, etc.) is an unfortunate devotee of the tell-not-show school. Key scenes happen offstage. The supposedly smart and seasoned Lou never realizes that her bosses are manipulating her into rash action. Everyone says how stifling it is to live in the city, how flawed it is, how hard it is to fit in, and how great the divide is between rich and poor, but the reader doesn’t spend enough substantive time in the city to see much evidence for these. Various factions jockey for power, but their motivations seem both too simple and too opaque. Perhaps more answers and complexity await in future volumes, but it doesn't seem promising.

The potential for some interesting ideas languishes in a half-built world populated with barely sketched characters.

Pub Date: June 13, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-63388-265-2

Page Count: 350

Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 70

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM

From the Remembrance of Earth's Past series , Vol. 1

Strange and fascinating alien-contact yarn, the first of a trilogy from China’s most celebrated science-fiction author.

In 1967, at the height of the Cultural Revolution, young physicist Ye Wenjie helplessly watches as fanatical Red Guards beat her father to death. She ends up in a remote re-education (i.e. forced labor) camp not far from an imposing, top secret military installation called Red Coast Base. Eventually, Ye comes to work at Red Coast as a lowly technician, but what really goes on there? Weapons research, certainly, but is it also listening for signals from space—maybe even signaling in return? Another thread picks up the story 40 years later, when nanomaterials researcher Wang Miao and thuggish but perceptive policeman Shi Qiang, summoned by a top-secret international (!) military commission, learn of a war so secret and mysterious that the military officers will give no details. Of more immediate concern is a series of inexplicable deaths, all prominent scientists, including the suicide of Yang Dong, the physicist daughter of Ye Wenjie; the scientists were involved with the shadowy group Frontiers of Science. Wang agrees to join the group and investigate and soon must confront events that seem to defy the laws of physics. He also logs on to a highly sophisticated virtual reality game called “Three Body,” set on a planet whose unpredictable and often deadly environment alternates between Stable times and Chaotic times. And he meets Ye Wenjie, rehabilitated and now a retired professor. Ye begins to tell Wang what happened more than 40 years ago. Jaw-dropping revelations build to a stunning conclusion. In concept and development, it resembles top-notch Arthur C. Clarke or Larry Niven but with a perspective—plots, mysteries, conspiracies, murders, revelations and all—embedded in a culture and politic dramatically unfamiliar to most readers in the West, conveniently illuminated with footnotes courtesy of translator Liu.

Remarkable, revelatory and not to be missed.

Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7653-7706-7

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more