TWO NEW TAKES ON THE END OF THE WORLD

What’s up with all the dystopian novels this year?  Not only people like Stephen King (and let’s face it, you expect Stephen King to come up with dark views of the world), but writers who are not known for writing dystopias are coming out with their own versions.  Cases in point: both Louise Erdrich and Nora Roberts have new books out which deal with the end of the world as we know it.

Future Home of the Living God is not your typical Louise Erdrich book.  Instead of writing about the present (as in The Round House or A Plague of Doves or LaRose), she sets this book in the near, but undetermined, future, and instead of writing about issues of revenge and justice, she’s writing about issues of reproductive freedom and repression (though, to be fair, those issues are related to her usual concerns).  The cataclysm in this case is a massive biological disaster that’s causing women to give birth to increasingly primitive versions of human beings, and in the wake of this “reverse evolution”, society begins to fall apart.  The protagonist, Cedar Hawk Songmaker, was adopted in infancy by a loving Minnesota couple, but when she becomes pregnant (with all the stories of disastrous pregnancies and government attempts to confine and monitor pregnant women), she sets out to find her birth mother, an Ojibwe woman living on a reservation.  All around Cedar, the world is falling apart: her adoptive parents disappear without a trace, families are torn apart, pregnant women are being required to register and rewards are offered for people turning in recalcitrant mothers-to-be.  With the end of humanity in sight, Cedar has to take extraordinary measures to keep herself and her baby safe.

Nora Roberts turns her hand to the end of the world as well in her newest book, Year One. In this case, a disease wiped out half of humanity, and all the usual structures of society failed as well: the electrical grid sputtered, governments collapsed, science and technology no longer worked as they had in the past.  In the new chaos, magick arises, both in the form of witchcraft practiced by Lana Bingham, living with her lover in a loft in a wrecked New York City, and in more sinister forms of power which can lurk anywhere.  Lara and her lover leave New York and head west, along with a disparate group of other survivors: a tech genius living in a non-digital world, a former journalist who no longer has an audience or a medium, a doctor and a paramedic and the woman and children in their care.  Those who are immune to the disease are considered dangerous, and those who show abnormal gifts are also considered dangerous, so this small group is doubly at risk, from what remains of authority and from those who have acquired powers they’re using for evil rather than good.  Warning: this is the first book in a trilogy.  While Nora Roberts is good about finishing her multiple book sets, those who want to follow my rule of thumb about multiple book series (i.e., don’t start them until the last one has come out) might want to wait for the rest of the series. Otherwise, if you’re a Nora Roberts fan, you’ll find plenty to enjoy (in a dark way) in Year One.

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BESTSELLERS FOR THE BEGINNING OF SUMMER

Yes, I know, technically it’s not summer until June 21, but for most people, summer begins with Memorial Day weekend and ends with Labor Day weekend, so we can consider ourselves to be standing on the verge of summer, ready to dive into some good books for summer.  And our bestselling authors are happy to oblige, releasing new books just in time for the beginning of the new season, so come to The Field Library and get the hot new books first.

gwendy's button box

When you’re talking about bestsellers, one name that comes up all the time is Stephen King’s, and no wonder: practically everything he writes leaps to the top of the bestseller lists.  Gwendy’s Button Box, his newest book, co-authored with Richard Chizmar, will almost certainly do the same.  Unlike many of King’s recent books, though, this is a novella, and a short one, so you can probably read it in a day or two.  King and Chizmar take readers back to Castle Rock, location of many of King’s works, and bring onstage one of King’s most famous and feared characters, the man in black, here calling himself Richard Farris, to offer a deceptively simple offer to the title character, Gwendy Peterson, an overweight middle school student trying to remake herself.  He gives her a box with buttons she can press and levers she can pull, all of which do different things, including a black button that could destroy the world.  He asks her to take care of the box and then he leaves, and the rest of the story turns on what she does — and doesn’t do — with the box and its powerful buttons and levers. With great power comes great responsibility, and be careful what you wish for.

nighthawk

But if creepy Stephen King style novellas aren’t your style, don’t worry.  Clive Cussler has a new volume in his NUMA series, Nighthawk, coming out on May 30.  The plot revolves around a missing U.S. military aircraft, one of the most advanced in the world, which disappears suddenly.  Naturally there are other countries which are very interested to get their hands on the aircraft and its technology, which is (naturally) highly classified, and the Russian and Chinese interest in the disappeared plane would be worrying enough, but they don’t even know the most dangerous secret about the plane: it’s carrying some exotic material extracted from the far reaches of the atmosphere, which will remain inert as long as the stuff is kept close to absolute zero. If it thaws, however, it will unleash a worldwide disaster of unthinkable proportions. The entire NUMA team is chasing down the plane, racing against time as well as against their enemies.  A suspenseful page-turner in the classic Clive Cussler fashion.

come sundown

Not interested in reading about the potential for worldwide destruction?  Then maybe you’d like to read Nora Roberts’ new book, Come Sundown. The book is set in a 30,000 acre ranch and resort in western Montana, owned for generations by the family of Bodine Longfellow. Bo’s aunt, Alice, disappeared years before and everybody has been assuming she’s dead, but she’s not; she’s close by, though not at all the same person she was when the family saw her last.  First a bartender and then another woman are found murdered, and then Alice reappears on the ranch property, with a story about where she’s been and what happened to her, and what trouble is following after her, that unnerves everybody in the family and sets the stage for greater danger than Bo has ever had to face before.  A master of romantic suspense at the top of her form, Nora Roberts delivers another blockbuster for her fans.