cover image Wormwood, Nevada

Wormwood, Nevada

David Oppegaard, . . St. Martin's, $24.99 (246pp) ISBN 978-0-312-38111-0

A meteorite crashing into the Nevada desert sparks a search for meaning and purpose in Oppegaard's intriguing if flat follow-up to The Suicide Collectors . Tyler and Anna Mayfield move to Wormwood, Nev., looking to escape the postcollege funk that permeated their lives in Nebraska. When a night out at the local bar is interrupted with a massive explosion nearby, the young couple find themselves in the middle of an already off-kilter town going meteor crazy. Tyler, haunted by the disappearance of his older brother years ago, sees booze, weed and fatigue-induced visions of aliens and becomes involved with a group that believes “visitors” will arrive imminently. Meanwhile, Anna, a former Miss Nebraska, suffers apocalyptic nightmares amid fears that the best years of her life are slipping away. Oppegaard deftly aligns the inner fears and waning hopes of his well-rounded protagonists with the paranormal tremors, but the tension all but dies in the final act as the novel unspools into a disappointingly diffuse anticlimax. (Dec.)