cover image Buzz Kill

Buzz Kill

David Sosnowski. 47North, $24.95 (508p) ISBN 978-1-5420-0502-9

Part family tragedy, part romance, and part cautionary tale about the dangers of modern technology, this sardonic prequel to Happy Doomsday suffers from a lack of direction. In Fairbanks, Alaska, high school hacktivist Pandora Lynch reconnects with her grandmother, who is slowly dying of dementia. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, homeless 16-year-old dropout George Jedson is miraculously hired to build a suicide-prevention artificial intelligence chatbot for the popular social media platform, Quire. Though the novel opens with Pandora and George’s rogue AI lovechild killing off most of humanity, the two don’t meet until halfway through the book. Once they do, their budding romance is first drowned in long-winded exposition about quantum computing, then cut short by George’s unexplained disappearance just as the story starts to pick up. When the AI introduced in the prologue is finally built, there have been too many narrative twists and distractions for readers to still be invested in its rampage. Fans of Sosnowski’s distinct and always enjoyable narrative voice may overlook the novel’s odd pacing, but those expecting a gripping sci-fi thriller will be disappointed. Agent: Jane Dystel, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (Jan.)