The Bottom Line: Winner, Sci-Fi Thriller, The BestThrillers.com Book Awards. Highly recommended.
All Hope of Becoming Human opens in rural Georgia as police officers are called to investigate a store robbery. Across the globe, the world is being ravaged by devastating earthquakes, viruses, riots and crime. But there in Georgia, a terrifying and grotesque creature awaits the officers at a nearby farmhouse. And what investigators find later – decapitations, harvested organs, traces of an organism no one can identify – is baffling. FBI Special Agent Demzey, a seasoned investigator whose expertise lies in the realms of anomalous crimes and the enigmatic fringes of the unknown, is open to any potential explanation. In the spirit of X-Files’ Fox Moulder, he asks his team to look into local folklore, rumors, legends or anything that might have escaped from a local zoo.
Meanwhile, archaeologist Rebecca Duccati arrives at an enigmatic military site hidden within the Arizona desert. Soldiers have excavated an unidentified metallic object at least a quarter mile long, as well as numerous corpses. The bodies show evidence of decapitations, lacerated sternums and precise incisions that are nearly surgical in nature. And not all the corpses are human.
Together, Demzey and Duccati – experts from vastly different worlds – form an unlikely partnership that holds the key to unlocking the mysteries of our existence. With this clever pairing, author Lonnie Busch sets the novel apart from the vast majority of forgettable post-apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers. From their first prickly meeting, in which Rebecca quips, “Wow, they sent the FBI. Unbelievable. To arrest an archaeologist” – the book becomes much harder to put down. As satisfying as Busch’s concept is, we longed for even more on-page scenes between Demzey and Duccati. That’s the sign of great narrative chemistry.
While the odds that the world can be saved are constantly in doubt, that doesn’t stop Busch from adding a romance to the mix. Demzey’s relationship with one of his subordinates is both steamy and sufficiently complicated. All the while, readers will find themselves hoping a love triangle is possible.
In a book where the dark fate of the entire planet is somehow made believable, Busch has created something that fans of horror, archeology fiction and sci-fi can connect with. Let’s hope surviving members of this excellent cast return for another adventure.