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

ACCIDENTAL WARRIOR

THE UNLIKELY TALE OF BLOODY HAL

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

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 364

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 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.

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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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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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