cover image The Revelations

The Revelations

Erik Hoel. Overlook, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5022-9

Neuroscientist Hoel’s dizzying, impressive debut unloads a series of nefarious plots and suppositions surrounding a research program at NYU. Depressed neuroscience graduate student Kierk Suren, 27, accepts a postdoc position in the Francis Crick Scholarship program with seven other scientists. He immediately alienates his peers, judging them as intellectually inferior, and works on developing a radical theory of consciousness. When fellow postdoc Atif Tomalin is discovered dead on the subway tracks, Kierk and Carmen Green, a former model and another Crick fellow drawn to Kierk despite his surliness, suspect foul play and search for answers. Their paranoia grows as they infiltrate a student group opposed to the program’s animal testing, and intensifies when a group of homeless people claim lab members have been kidnapping and lobotomizing people. Meanwhile, Kierk is tapped by the Department of Defense to help with a mind control program as his theory begins to take shape. Alarming nightmares, crises at the lab, and sexual attraction between Kierk and Carmen propel and confound their quest. While frequent debates over scientific theories and backstories on various characters can clutter the narrative, Hoel adeptly threads everything together by the end. Fast and furious, this mind-stretching novel makes the grade. Agent: Adam Schear, DeFiore and Co. (Apr.)