Kirkus has bestowed a starred review on “Sylo”, the thrilling first novel in a new series launched today by Penguin’s Razorbill YA imprint. MacHale is author of the mammoth bestselling “Pendragon” series and, more recently, the Morpheus trilogy,
Below in full is the review:
This riveting novel starts with a question: How safe is it to remain uninvolved?
At 14, Tucker Pierce is all about fitting in and going with the flow. While his friends talk about going out into the world and doing great things, he prefers to dream small. He likes life on tiny, fictional Pemberwick Island, Maine, and hopes to take over his father’s landscaping business eventually. For now, warming the bench at the weekly football games is just fine with him. But when the island is quarantined by the U.S. Navy, things start to fall apart, and Tucker can’t stand aside for long. People start dying. The girl he wants to get to know a whole lot better, Tori, is captured along with Tucker and imprisoned behind barbed wire. The country-club golf course has been converted into a military camp run by a division of the military they’ve never heard of: SYLO. There’s no communication from the mainland to the island and no way to get word of what’s happening out to the world. Tucker and Tori need to get to the mainland to tell their story. Can they get past the naval blockade? Can they survive the sky-borne attack on the blockade? Whom can they trust? Who-or what-is SYLO? And who is fighting whom? MacHale knows boy readers and delivers, giving them an action-packed plot with a likable, Everykid protagonist and doling out answers with just the right amount of parsimony to keep the pages turning.
This first installment in a proposed trilogy is A, more exciting than an X-Box and roller coaster combined. (Adventure. 10-16)
“Dark even by dystopian standards, Flashback chronicles the dark days of a dead superpower.” Christian Science Monitor
For Americans and their lawmakers a financial and government crisis is terra incognita. But not for Dan Simmons, whose Flashback, now in paperback, projects a dystopian future launched by world financial collapse identical to the recent one from which we are still recovering.
In the author’s words, “Flashback posits the possibility that the United States of America, if it continues accruing debt without rethinking its spending and social welfare programs, could implode in sudden and total bankruptcy, losing not only its position in the world but its own sense of self for hundreds of millions of its citizens. In Flashback, this canary also imagines a cheap and available drug called flashback; a drug that allows hundreds of millions of Americans to find an escape hatch from life in such a damned and dismal future simply by reliving the good parts of their former lives. Over and over. And over.”
Simmons’s dark view of the world around the corner from today is controversial and has raised some hackles among fans and critics who like their futures to be politically correct. They obviously have confused dystopian and utopian. Simmons hasn’t.
But, taken for what it also is, a futuristic thriller packed with beautifully limned characters and a mystery that can only be solved by drug-induced time-travel, it is another triumph by the author of The Terror, Hyperion, Carrion Comfort and Summer of Night.
In a starred review Publishers Weekly says “Simmons makes some logical if depressing extrapolations from current political and economic developments in this outstanding mystery thriller set in a near-future dystopic United States.” Booklist calls it “Another winner from Simmons, whose imagination seems to know no bounds.”
“Simmons is…a master at cinematic pacing, and the best parts of his book are summer-blockbuster fun.” NPR
“A nifty thriller, and the murder mystery will hook the reader hard and early.” Winnipeg Free Press
Simmons has addressed a long letter to his fans detailing the thinking processes behind a book that will be debated for a long time to come. You can read his message here.
Audiofile Magazine has reviewed the first audio volume of Curtis Agency author Steven L. Kent’s military science fiction series, following the exploits of a soldier in an interplanetary clone army.
Here’s the kicker:
“At times, this GraphicAudio military thriller sounds like a computer game full of laser rifles, bombs, and explosions. As Harris’s character evolves thorugh endless battles and he moves up the ranks from private to lieutenant, the narration by Jackson and his fellow actors never skips a beat.”