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The Host Rises: Book One of the Promised Land Series
"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
Read the absorbing new psychological suspense thriller from acclaimed New York Times bestselling author Marisha Pessl. Learn more
BlueInk Reviews-STARRED REVIEW
The Host Rises K.H. Brent iUniverse, 433 pages, (paperback) $22.95, 9781532014710 (Reviewed: December 2017)
K.H. Brent's stellar debut novel, the first instalment in his Promised Land saga, is a page-turning fusion of apocalyptic fiction, science fiction and mainstream thriller. It's set in a near-future where the world's population, on the brink of self-annihilation, is effectively reshaped by a group of seemingly godlike invaders who forcibly bring "a promise of peace."
The Host Rises takes place in a dystopia where ignorance and apathy have flourished, turning America into a fearful, narrow-minded theocracy. Much of the population has become "Virtuals," spending the majority of their time in artificial realms while their bodies wither away in virtual living compounds.
The world is irrevocably changed when the Seraphim, members of an entity known as the Host, give humanity an ultimatum: End all conflict and turn all military assets over to the United Nations in 48 hours or be destroyed. When the population of an entire town is instantly killed after not complying, the rest of the world's governments quickly fall into line.
A year after the "Peace" has been established, the world is markedly different. There are no nations, only regions. English is the global language. Food production is being radically improved and global warming is being addressed. But there are those who don't trust the seemingly benevolent Host and are covertly attempting to understand its real motivations. Special agent John Harriman and journalist Grace Williams have been investigating the Host from the beginning. When they uncover its true origins, they must attempt to stop its masterful plan before it's too late.
The writing is fast-paced and full of driving energy, propelling the book through a wealth of plot twists. Reminiscent of Arthur C. Clarke's seminal 1953 novel Childhood's End, Brent's book is everything good science fiction should be: powered by deeply considered speculation, relentlessly thought-provoking and, above all else, visionary.
Bottom line: The Host Rises is better than the majority of science fiction releases currently on the shelves. Yes, it's that good.
BlueInk Heads Up: The Star designation is offered with the recognition that copyediting issues remain in need of attention, including improper use of the possessive apostrophe, comma mistakes and word usage errors. Also available in hardcover and ebook.
Clarion Review SCIENCE FICTION
The Host Rises K. H. Brent iUniverse
(Aug 26, 2017) Softcover $22.95 (462pp) 978-1-5320-1471-0
Introspective and action packed, The Host Rises is a deft start to a new science fiction series.
An implacable alien force arrives to usher humanity into an era of peace in the thrilling The Host Rises by K. H. Brent.
In the not-too-distant future, Earth is reeling from catastrophe after catastrophe. Corporations coalesce into megacorporations with influence enough to unseat governments.
Grace thrives as a war correspondent traveling from conflict to conflict, while John slips in and out of global conflicts on secret missions. Wilson lives in a virtual world, only leaving for food and hygienic considerations. The three find themselves connected when an extraterrestrial force arrives on Earth to enforce peace at any cost.
Seemingly omnipotent and able to strike down countless threats, the Host demands that human beings put aside violence or face instant execution. Earth enters a period of peace, but dissidents threaten to unravel everything.
The Host Rises is the first book in the Promised Land series. It does a great job of introducing characters and setting scenes. It's also chock full of both thrilling action and contemplative moments. From exploding battlefields to efforts to solve the food crisis, there is never a dull moment. The book's cliffhanger ending is appropriate, satisfying, and engaging.
John and Wilson shine in their roles. John starts out as a human weapon; the president points him at whatever threat needs to be taken care of. Over the course of the novel, he struggles with war and violence and his place in both. A twist near the end adds intensity to his backstory and sets up the conflict for the next book.
Meanwhile, Wilson barely escapes the lure of the virtual world, but he ends up studying with AIs that are modeled after history's greatest minds to solve the world's food crisis.
The point of view moves between characters to flesh out events thoroughly, particularly when John or other military characters step into the spotlight. Military jargon and tactics are used freely and only explained when needed, allowing events to unfold appropriately.
This is also science fiction with an important perspective. In between its unusual aliens and new technology, characters grapple with moral and ethical issues. John's cold, unfeeling executions are coupled with his increasing difficulty at staying distant from his actions.
Wilson, too, forces himself to learn and understand as much as possible in the hopes of helping an unstable world. Issues of economics, philosophy, and human nature are confronted. Intense world building adds to the book's appeal.
The Host Rises is a deft start to a new science fiction series, both introspective and action packed.
JOHN M. MURRAY (December 22, 2017)
In the near future, numerous people experiencing a quick, stabbing pain in the abdominal area become part of a global event. Someone takes credit for the apparent attack, calling it a demonstration and promising to reveal all at the forthcoming United Nations General Assembly. It's there that a "saucer shaped craft" arrives and a humanlike being emerges--the Voice of the Host. The Host has an ultimatum: earthlings will cease all hostilities or be destroyed, much like members of a violent faction whom the entity later kills simultaneously. Parts of the Host's planet-saving strategy are beneficial, enlisting Wil, a Virtual (his time is largely spent in virtual reality), to combat starvation by developing optimum crop production in VR for real-world application. Many, however, are resistant to the Host, seeing it as either a dominating alien or some sort of demon. Col. John Harriman and others, meanwhile, hope to reclaim freedoms taken by the Host, which intends to implement a world government. Taking down the entity will necessitate studying its superior technology--as covertly as possible, of course. Brent delivers a worthy novel, with tension derived from the Host's ambiguity and a dialogue-heavy narrative of characters' varying theories. For example, there are alternating signs of extraterrestrial and religious origins; human Directors working for the Host have "halos" over their heads, which are reputedly devices linking each person to the entity. Two romances in the story are rather conventional (meeting the parents is a significant step in both) but nicely contrast with the titular character. Wil and Sonya, for one, meet in VR but gradually join reality, while sometime assassin Harriman and war correspondent Grace, with violent conflicts now absent, lose their livelihoods. Elucidation on the Host is striking, but the ending is truly remarkable and a stunning preamble to Book 2.
A smart, delightfully offbeat tale with shades of sci-fi and military action.
From the Author
This story has been in my head for almost twenty years. Originally it was to be a quick, short story about terrorists being able to utilize technology to take the entire world hostage. It didn't take too many keystrokes to realize that the near future reality I was creating would become a 132,000 word case study in what happens when we all finally do get that "peace" everyone seems to want... just not in the way we envision it.