A rousing what-if look at a decidedly different America persuasively stuck in a historical past.



A modern-day college freshman mysteriously teleports to a semi-savage, alternate-universe North America—during a period that closely resembles Colonial times—where he reluctantly participates in military campaigns and rebellions.

Hal Christianson, 18, from White Plains, New York, is a 2016 American college freshman stranded in a cave on a dark and stormy night after a party. He literally falls into an alternative North America—the same place, in 2016, but now a semi-wild country, where Colonial-era levels of technology, values, and power struggles prevail. A friendly “woodsranger” explains, conveniently, the backstory. The American Revolution never happened. Instead, an extinction-level plague swept 17th-century Europe, sending boatloads of refugees bearing remnants of their rival imperial cultures—English, Dutch, French, and Spanish—to the New World. They wage war with one another over territorial domination in between truces and trading alliances. Hal (fortunately, a member of a school fencing team) adapts to this new abnormal with some finesse and a bit of luck that earn him a useful but reluctant reputation as a serious fighter. He accompanies a Swedish merchant expedition (actually a cover for gunrunning) to Nieuw Amsterdam—the island city fort that should have been New York—on faint hints that somebody there might comprehend his predicament and know how to send him back to his rightful world. Meanwhile, Hal stumbles into intrigues, romance, and an incipient insurgency. There are ingredients for a YA swashbuckler in this smart, energetic alternative-history opus from pseudonymous author Alexander (Lady of Ice and Fire, 1995). But between the sex, swearing, and gore, the lively antics remain consistently R-rated. Alexander succinctly sketches details of this brutal, archaic milieu, mainly in terms of military troop movements and command virtues (or lack thereof). Further subtleties of this class-bound alternate America tend to be marginalized or only inferred. Native Americans are remote “savages”; people of color only appear low in the ranks of the Dutch; Massachusetts Puritans have the continent’s only democratic government but are otherwise distant, religious-fanatic menaces. Still, the pace and action never let up. Adventurous readers should find themselves acclimating to this raw, rustic, rough-and-tumble environment just as the plucky teenage protagonist does.

A rousing what-if look at a decidedly different America persuasively stuck in a historical past.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2017


Page Count: 364

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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
  • 71

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

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


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

Did you like this book?