cover image Normal


Warren Ellis. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $13 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-374-53497-4

Adam Dearden, the hero of this fascinating near-future thriller from Ellis (Gun Machine), is one of the people monitoring an intricate worldwide surveillance system as part of an effort to save the world from a looming cataclysm that could bring financial ruin. When Adam suffers a breakdown while attending a conference in Rotterdam, he’s taken to Normal Head, an asylum in Oregon. The next morning, awakened by loud banging, he leaves his room and sees orderlies in an uproar. Another inmate, Mr. Mansfield, is missing from his room, his bed covered with a couple hundred pounds of bugs. There’s no evidence on the surveillance tapes of Mr. Mansfield leaving or being taken from his room, which was locked with its windows sealed. The institute is put into lockdown with all Internet connections severed. Though all inmates and staff are suspects, Adam, as the new arrival, is the primary one. Readers will root for Adam as he struggles to discover what is actually going on in Normal, who is to be trusted, and what happened to Mansfield. (Nov.)