Monday, July 07, 2014

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 7/5

These are the books that arrived at my house this past week, sent by their publishers for publicity purposes. I can't do a lot for publicity, but I can at least do this: list them all on a Monday morning, trying to be honest and/or entertaining about them, in hopes it will spark some of you to look for them. I haven't read any of these book yet, and there's always a very strong chance that I will never read any particular book: the world is full of books, and none of us manage to read more than a tiny fraction of them.

So here they are:

The Eye of Minds is the first book in a new dystopian YA series by James Dashner, author of The Maze Runner. And it's a virtual reality novel, as if I was still the one in the "young adult" bucket and it was still the 1970s. This time, the system is called VirtNet -- not the most inspired name, I'm afraid -- and our young hero, Michael, is suborned by what will certainly turn out to be a nasty government to battle black-hat hackers inside VirtNet. I would not be at all surprised to learn that if you die in VirtNet, you really die, since every last VR novel needs to trot that out to gin up some tension. Eye of Minds is an Ember trade paperback, on sale July 22nd.

Speaking of things that evoke the 1970s, I also have here The Little Green Book of Chairman Rahma, the new standalone solo novel by Brian Herbert, who's spent most of his writing time these past two decades expanding his father's Dune empire with Kevin J. Anderson. As the title implies, it is set in a brutal dystopian future ruled by a ecologically-driven dictator. (The flap copy helpfully tells us that "the Chairman's government has been relocating all citizens to densely populated reservations" -- oddly enough, that very same activity has been going on strongly and naturally for more than a decade, but we call them cities.) Little Book of Chairman Rahma is printed in green type, it's a Tor hardcover coming July 8th, and I suppose there is a small chance that some elements of it are treated elegantly and amusingly.

I really don't understand the thinking that goes into first giving a writing team a pseudonym and then listing the authors' real names with pictures on the back flap -- is it purely to have a shorter name on the cover? Surely in a world where "Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child" is a multiply-bestselling team, "Carlos Dews & S.J. Rozan" would present no serious problems? Anyway, Dews and Rozan write under the transparent pseudonym Sam Cabot, and they have now followed up the Catholic/Native American/vampire thriller Blood of the Lamb with a sequel, Skin of the Wolf, which adds werewolves to the mix. It's a mainstream thriller with fantasy elements, so you know what that means: infodumps of the main character's abstruse specialties, chase scenes, unlikely juxtapositions of elements, and a overarching need to put all of the toys back in the box so the mundane world can go back to ordinary life. Skin of the Wolf is a hardcover from Blue Rider Press, coming July 31.

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