cover image Ascendance


John Birmingham. Del Rey, $9.99 mass market (400p) ISBN 978-0-345-53991-5

In the third installment of Birmingham’s Dave vs. the Monsters series (after Resistance), Dave Hooper, an American oil rig worker and reluctant superhero, continues to battle the inhuman hordes that are attempting to conquer and devour all humans. With his superspeed, ability to stop time, and enchanted splitting maul (which he names Lucille), he’s a one-man army, but he’s still learning how to handle the pressure. He’s joined by sexy Russian double agent Karen Varatchevsky, who uses her own empathic powers ruthlessly as she goads him on to further success. But the monsters have numbers and cunning on their side, as well as the knowledge and talents of traitorous human geniuses. Birmingham injects a tongue-in-cheek, over-the-top sensibility into this action-packed adventure. Dave is a perennial screwup, while the ultracompetent Karen is repeatedly compared to the Marvel Comics superheroine Black Widow; they’re the oddest of odd couples. On the side of the monsters, the strangely endearing Threshy mixes urban slang with a scientist’s brilliance, to rather surreal results. New readers will have an easier time starting with book one. Agent: Russell Galen, Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency. (June)