Richly developed and profound, able to serve both as a stand-alone and a surprising follow-up to the previous work.

DESTROYER OF LIGHT

The myth of Hades’ abduction of Persephone, Demeter's daughter, inspires a dark, poetic tale of struggling human colonists and ambiguously motivated aliens on a distant planet.

In Brissett’s short novel Elysium (2014), overlapping narratives chronicled the invasion of Earth by the krestge, hostile and inscrutable multidimensional beings who poisoned our world and murdered or mutated most of humanity. The survivors embarked on a centurieslong journey to the planet Eleusis only to be followed there by the krestge, now offering peace. Deidra, genetically modified to encourage the growth of kremer, a protein-loaded grain vital to the settlers, loses her daughter, Cora, to the marauding rebel army of Dr. Aidoneus Okoni. Okoni vehemently distrusts the krestge’s intentions and plans to weaponize the girl’s unique power to shift into another dimension against them. Years later, Cora (renamed Stefonie and now unhappily married to Okoni) is unexpectedly let loose in the city of Oros to carry out the final phase of his plan. Will Stefonie remain faithful to the mysterious orders given by her abusive, unstable husband, or will she make a break for freedom? Is going home even possible for her? Meanwhile, twin investigators bound by a strong psychic link search for a missing boy whose parents—one human, one krestge—are clearly not saying all they know about his disappearance. Skipping back and forth across the timeline of the story, Brissett uses the alien setting to explore contemporary issues, including racism (the gifted are feared and despised; some attempt to “pass” by obscuring the glowing irises that indicate their psychic talents), the complexities of allyship, and the trauma experienced by child soldiers. The author’s updated take on a classic myth is both clever and entertaining, particularly in her placement of Hecate, goddess of the crossroads, as the sentient interface to the Lattice, the planetary internet and defensive grid, and her characterization of the Hermes-analog as a shuttle pilot named Freddie (as in Mercury).

Richly developed and profound, able to serve both as a stand-alone and a surprising follow-up to the previous work.

Pub Date: Oct. 12, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-250-26865-5

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2021

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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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A sequel that repeats the mistakes of its predecessor while failing to break new ground.

THE LAST GRADUATE

A teenage witch with a natural affinity for dark magic prepares to run a deadly graduation gauntlet in this sequel to Novik's Deadly Education (2020).

Galadriel "El" Higgins has finally reached her senior year at the Scholomance, putting her one step closer to her ultimate goal: get back home or die trying. After getting a sneak peek at the monster-packed hallway she must survive if she wants to graduate, the witchy teen returns to her classes and cliques with scarcely more insight than before. El knows enough to realize that her mana stores are a fraction of what they should be—come graduation, she will lack the magical juice she needs to kill monsters and make it out alive. Her fake-dating relationship with Orion proves to be a lucky "in," netting her a new string of tenuous alliances as well as access to a wellspring of free mana. But what could be a compelling adventure story falls apart here, as the novel relies on relentless bouts of infodumping to keep readers up to speed on where the Scholomance's monsters come from and what they can do to unsuspecting students. None of these paragraphs-long blasts of information recount the details of El's last excursion, however, and so readers who have forgotten Novik's previous novel, or who have never read it at all, will find no springboard ready to help them dive into the author's newest offering. Those who stumble upon this volume risk being unmoored, as the narrative picks up immediately following the events of its predecessor, without stopping to introduce anything, including the narrator. Ultimately, El's seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of every monster in the school, combined with her continued refusal to enter into any genuine alliance with classmates, leaves readers to wonder what she could possibly have left to learn—or fear—in the Scholomance.

A sequel that repeats the mistakes of its predecessor while failing to break new ground.

Pub Date: Sept. 28, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-12886-2

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Del Rey

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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