John Ridley, Author . Warner $24.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-446-53093-4

When a supervillain wastes San Francisco in this high-octane futuristic thriller from screenwriter Ridley (The Drift), the U.S. decides to expel all "metanormals" within its borders. Those who choose to remain are hunted down by MTacs, police units who only have one job—kill the freaks. It isn't a terribly original premise—Batman fans will recognize the influence of Frank Miller's seminal graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns—but that's fine, because a premise is all it is, and Ridley knows it. Soledad O'Roark, a 26-year-old MTac and an engineering genius, has a virulent hatred of metanormals. Her tale is one of unremitting darkness, and from early on it's easy to tell it won't have a happy ending. For all the bleakness, though, Ridley makes it hard not to pull for Soledad. Readers will find themselves torn between sympathy, empathy, pity and disgust, often on the same page. With its lavish fight scenes, the book was clearly written with an eye on film adaptation. Yet Ridley, whose Hollywood credits include work on Three Kings and Undercover Brother, knows how to make his story work both as a novel and as a proto-screenplay. And as a novel, it works very well indeed. (May 20)

Forecast:With film rights sold to Warner Bros. and Joel Silver (The Matrix) already signed up to produce, plus print advertising in African-American periodicals like Black Issues Book Review and Quarterly Black Review, as well as in major SF magazines, expect healthy sales.

Reviewed on: 04/21/2003
Release date: 05/01/2003
Paperback - 376 pages - 978-0-446-61202-9
Open Ebook - 192 pages - 978-1-935170-72-3
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