New Release Roundup: Recommendations for July 2012
Every month I'll be toiling in the dank, dark mines of literary obscurity, scouring the catalogues of every major publisher to bring the LitReactor faithful a few choice titles hitting the shelves. The following is a brief look at what's worth checking out in July. Full disclosure: unless otherwise noted, none of the below books have been reviewed by myself or other LitReactor staff. These are just a few recommendations based on publisher's notes and my own opinions. Without further ado:
'Year Zero' by Robert Reid
How many science fiction authors envision a world in which an entertainment lawyer saves humanity? Robert Reid's novel, beginning a run of number-related titles being released this month (don't look at me), follows Nick Carter, a low-level attorney who is visited by two extraterrestrials with extraordinary news. Turns out that alien planets have been aware of Earth's existence since 1977 (a time they refer to as "Year Zero"), and while they haven't felt compelled to make themselves known to us, they have become addicted to our pop music. In fact, the intergalactic need for tunes has reached such critical levels that it has driven an interstellar society to commit the largest-scale copyright theft in history, and the resulting fines and penalties have bankrupted the galaxy. As anyone who remembers the first round of Napster-related lawsuits might be able to imagine...this...means...WAR!
'Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellvue Hospital' by Eric Manheimer
This memoir, written by Dr. Eric Manheimer, uses the real cases of twelve patients from very different sociological backgrounds to illustrate the rifts that exist between so many Americans, who all require the same care. The patients include ailing U.N. dignitaries, inmates from Riker's Island, and even Dr. Manheimer himself, who is diagnosed with cancer as the book unfolds, changing his already unique perspective on medicine in society at large.
'15 Seconds' by Andrew Gross
For fans of the classic, heartpounding thriller, this novel runs with a tried-and-true premise: is it paranoia, or are they really out to get you? Henry Steadman, stopped for a routine traffic violation, finds his world turned upside down when an unusually hostile police officer is gunned down in front of his eyes, and soon Henry realizes that he is the only suspect in a crime he didn't commit. As Henry tries to find help, he gradually realizes he is at the center of a grand revenge scheme, but is unable to say who exactly is behind it.
'Earth Unaware: The First Formic War' by Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston
Fans of the the controversial Card, especially the critically acclaimed Ender novels, might want to check this one out. Set a number of years before the events of Ender's Game, Earth Unaware puts us inside a mining vessel on the outer reaches of our galaxy, where an unidentified vessel is closing in. The crew, mostly blue-collar workers, have other problems, and the approaching craft seems to be the least of their worries, but its arrival heralds the beginning of the first Formic War, the backdrop of both Ender's Game and Ender's Shadow.
'Vlad' by Carlos Fuentes
Y'know what's never been done before? A book about vampires. In all seriousness, this modern-day take on the ancient legend of Count Dracula (based on the real-life Vlad the Impaler) sounds pretty damned interesting, and making vampires interesting these days is an achievement in and of itself. According to author Fuentes, Vlad has been driven from his ancestral home in Europe due to several factors beyond his control, and has wound up in Mexico City, an ideal place to reassert his powerful undead kingdom. Vlad is in need of both a lawyer and a real-estate agent in order to cement a comfortable place in the Mexican bourgeoisie, and sets his sights on a wealthy family who might be easily enticed into eternal life.
'Buried on Avenue B' by Peter de Jonge
You know what we don't have enough of in post-Guiliani America? "Stay out of the City" stories. This cops 'n' killers narrative begins with a reported murder, skeptically received because it came from a man holed up in a nursing home and suffering from Alzheimer's. A city-sponsored excavation of the alleged burial site, a park off of avenue B, does indeed yield a corpse, but not the lowlife police were expecting to find. Instead, the discovery of a 10-year-old boy, buried with drugs, booze, and comic books launches the first investigation of Detective Darlene O'Hara's career, and leads her down dark and twisted paths that she never wanted to explore in the first place.
'Dare Me' by Megan Abbot
Nothing goes together like cheerleaders and murder/suicides right? Abby and Beth are the top dog seniors at their high school, both having assumed leadership of the highly competitive cheer squad. However, their pleasant positions of power are threatened when a new young coach arrives, and using more honey than vinegar, draws more and more of the girls into her "golden circle". Beth, however, is skeptical, and tries to assert her social dominance through a subtle but vicious campaign...one that is derailed when one of the squad's members winds up dead of an apparent suicide...dark and demanding is just what the doctor ordered, and this title seems fit for readers of all stripes (ie: non-cheerleaders welcome).
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