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Book Review: Final Girls, by Riley Sager

Not one, not two, but three Final Girls.


Final Girls

Ebury Press, 2017, 352 pages



Ten years ago college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie-scale massacre. In an instant she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to - a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.

Now Quincy is doing well - maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancé, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won't even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past.

That is until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started 10 years ago is finished.


Because you never get to survive just one.Collapse )




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Book Review: Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson

The Moon blows up. Humanity splits into seven tribes.


Seveneves

Harper Collins, 2015, 867 pages



What would happen if the world were ending?

A catastrophic event renders the earth a ticking time bomb. In a feverish race against the inevitable, nations around the globe band together to devise an ambitious plan to ensure the survival of humanity far beyond our atmosphere, in outer space.

But the complexities and unpredictability of human nature coupled with unforeseen challenges and dangers threaten the intrepid pioneers, until only a handful of survivors remain....

Five thousand years later, their progeny - seven distinct races now three billion strong - embark on yet another audacious journey into the unknown...to an alien world utterly transformed by cataclysm and time: Earth.

A writer of dazzling genius and imaginative vision, Neal Stephenson combines science, philosophy, technology, psychology, and literature in a magnificent work of speculative fiction that offers a portrait of a future that is both extraordinary and eerily recognizable. As he did in Anathem, Cryptonomicon, the Baroque Cycle, and Reamde, Stephenson explores some of our biggest ideas and perplexing challenges in a breathtaking saga that is daring, engrossing, and altogether brilliant.


Two novels, a before and after.Collapse )

Also by Neal Stephenson: My review of Reamde.




My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Ubik, by Philip K. Dick

Paranoia, psychic powers, and afterlives.


Ubik

Gollancz, 1969, 208 pages



Glen Runciter runs a lucrative business - deploying his teams of anti-psychics to corporate clients who want privacy and security from psychic spies. But when he and his top team are ambushed by a rival, he is gravely injured and placed in "half-life," a dreamlike state of suspended animation. Soon, though, the surviving members of the team begin experiencing some strange phenomena, such as Runciter's face appearing on coins and the world seeming to move backward in time. As consumables deteriorate and technology gets ever more primitive, the group needs to find out what is causing the shifts and what a mysterious product called Ubik has to do with it all.


Use Ubik only as directed.Collapse )




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Book Review: The Fold, by Peter Clines

An experimental teleportation device - what couldn't go wrong?


The Fold

Crown, 2015, 384 pages



Step into the fold. It's perfectly safe.

The folks in Mike Erikson's small New England town would say he's just your average, everyday guy. And that's exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he's chosen isn't much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he's content with his quiet and peaceful existence. That is until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve.

Far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to "fold" dimensions, it shrinks distances so a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step. The invention promises to make mankind's dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the door is completely safe. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn't quite what it seems - and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.

As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there's only one answer that makes sense. And if he's right, it may be only a matter of time before the project destroys...everything. A cunningly inventive mystery featuring a hero worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a terrifying final twist you'll never see coming, The Fold is that rarest of things: a genuine pause-resister science-fiction thriller. Step inside its audio and learn why author Peter Clines has already won legions of loyal fans.


The green cockroaches are back.Collapse )

Also by Peter Clines: My reviews of Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, Ex-Purgatory, and 14.




My complete list of book reviews.
The sci-fi classic about a race of people who can change genders.


The Left Hand of Darkness

Ace, 1969, 304 pages



A groundbreaking work of science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter's inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters. Embracing the aspects of psychology, society, and human emotion on an alien world, The Left Hand of Darkness stands as a landmark achievement in the annals of intellectual science fiction.


A truly literary SF novel - but unfortunately, not a very exciting one.Collapse )

Also by Ursula K. Le Guin: My review of The Dispossessed.




My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Purity, by Jonathan Franzen

A Millennial with massive student debt and a crazy mother goes to South America and hooks up with an East German.


Purity

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015, 563 pages



Young Pip Tyler doesn't know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she's saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she's squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother - her only family - is hazardous. But she doesn't have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she'll ever have a normal life.

Enter the Germans. A glancing encounter with a German peace activist leads Pip to an internship in South America with The Sunlight Project, an organization that traffics in all the secrets of the world - including, Pip hopes, the secret of her origins. TSP is the brainchild of Andreas Wolf, a charismatic provocateur who rose to fame in the chaos following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now on the lam in Bolivia, Andreas is drawn to Pip for reasons she doesn't understand, and the intensity of her response to him upends her conventional ideas of right and wrong.

Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder. The author of The Corrections and Freedom has imagined a world of vividly original characters - Californians and East Germans, good parents and bad parents, journalists and leakers - and he follows their intertwining paths through landscapes as contemporary as the omnipresent Internet and as ancient as the war between the sexes. Purity is the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time.


Women are silly, dudes are ridiculous, Germans are neurotic, and fiction is stranger than life.Collapse )

Also by Jonathan Franzen: My review of Freedom.




My complete list of book reviews.
War between Earth, Mars, and the Belt in the sixth book in the Expanse series.


Babylon's Ashes

Orbit, 2016, 538 pages



A revolution brewing for generations has begun in fire. It will end in blood.

The Free Navy - a violent group of Belters in black-market military ships - has crippled the Earth and begun a campaign of piracy and violence among the outer planets. The colony ships heading for the thousand new worlds on the far side of the alien ring gates are easy prey, and no single navy remains strong enough to protect them.

James Holden and his crew know the strengths and weaknesses of this new force better than anyone. Outnumbered and outgunned, the embattled remnants of the old political powers call on the Rocinante for a desperate mission to reach Medina Station at the heart of the gate network.

But the new alliances are as flawed as the old, and the struggle for power has only just begun. As the chaos grows, an alien mystery deepens. Pirate fleets, mutiny, and betrayal may be the least of the Rocinante's problems. And in the uncanny spaces past the ring gates, the choices of a few damaged and desperate people may determine the fate of more than just humanity.


Another change in the status quo, but still waiting for the big shoe to drop.Collapse )

Also by James S.A. Corey: My reviews of Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, Abaddon's Gate, Cibola Burn, Nemesis Games.




My complete list of book reviews.
Detective Sean Duffy is once again in deep with the RUC, the IRA, and MI5.


Gun Street Girl

Seventh Street Books, 2015, 313 pages



Belfast, 1985. Amid the Troubles, Detective Sean Duffy, a Catholic cop in the Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary, struggles with burnout as he investigates a brutal double murder and suicide. Did Michael Kelly really shoot his parents at point-blank range and then jump off a nearby cliff? A suicide note points to this conclusion, but Duffy suspects even more sinister circumstances. He soon discovers that Kelly was present at a decadent Oxford party where a cabinet minister's daughter died of a heroin overdose, which may or may not have something to do with Kelly's subsequent death.

New evidence leads elsewhere: gun runners, arms dealers, the British government, and a rogue American agent with a fake identity. Duffy thinks he's getting somewhere when agents from MI5 show up at his doorstep and try to recruit him, thus taking him off the investigation.

Duffy is in it up to his neck, doggedly pursuing a case that may finally prove to be his undoing.


More Ireland in the 80s with extra pop culture references.Collapse )

Also by Adrian McKinty: My reviews of The Cold Cold Ground, I Hear the Sirens in the Street, In the Morning I'll Be Gone, Hidden River.




My complete list of book reviews.

Book Review: Death's End, by Cixin Liu

The conclusion of the trilogy ends on a galactic scale.


Death's End

Tor, 2016, 604 pages



With The Three-Body Problem, English-speaking listeners got their first chance to experience the multiple-award-winning and best-selling Three-Body Trilogy by China's most beloved science fiction author, Cixin Liu.

Three-Body was released to great acclaim, including coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It was also named a finalist for the Nebula Award, making it the first translated novel to be nominated for a major SF award since Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities in 1976. Now this epic trilogy concludes with Death's End.

Half a century after the Doomsday Battle, the uneasy balance of Dark Forest Deterrence keeps the Trisolaran invaders at bay. Earth enjoys unprecedented prosperity due to the infusion of Trisolaran knowledge. With human science advancing daily and the Trisolarans adopting Earth culture, it seems that the two civilizations will soon be able to coexist peacefully as equals, without the terrible threat of mutually assured annihilation. But the peace has also made humanity complacent.

Cheng Xin, an aerospace engineer from the early 21st century, awakens from hibernation in this new age. She brings with her knowledge of a long-forgotten program dating from the beginning of the Trisolar Crisis, and her very presence may upset the delicate balance between two worlds. Will humanity reach for the stars or die in its cradle?


Xanatos gambits, bubble galaxies, sexy ninja androids, and the end.Collapse )

Also by Cixin Liu: My reviews of The Three-Body Problem and The Dark Forest.




My complete list of book reviews.
Edward Abbey's essays about wilderness, tourism, the park service, and population control.


Desert Solitaire

Simon & Schuster, 1968, 268 pages



When Desert Solitaire was first published in 1968, it became the focus of a nationwide cult. Rude and sensitive. Thought-provoking and mystical. Angry and loving. Both Abbey and this book are all of these and more. Here, the legendary author of The Monkey Wrench Gang, Abbey's Road and many other critically acclaimed books vividly captures the essence of his life during three seasons as a park ranger in southeastern Utah. This is a rare view of a quest to experience nature in its purest form -- the silence, the struggle, the overwhelming beauty. But this is also the gripping, anguished cry of a man of character who challenges the growing exploitation of the wilderness by oil and mining interests, as well as by the tourist industry.

Abbey's observations and challenges remain as relevant now as the day he wrote them. Today, Desert Solitaire asks if any of our incalculable natural treasures can be saved before the bulldozers strike again.


Ed said if a man can't piss in his own front yard, he's living too close to townCollapse )




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