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Titles similar to Shovel Ready
It’s been a banner year for debut thrillers. Last February, we were treated to Roger Hobbs’ Ghostman, about a thief who specializes in making all traces of his capers disappear. Now, not quite a year later, we have another galvanizing thriller boasting an equally unique premise and another compelling, antiheroic protagonist on the wrong side of the law—though the concepts of right and wrong, law and lawless, have little meaning in the world of Shovel Ready. Yes, the novel falls under the postapocalyptic umbrella—Times Square has been hit by a dirty bomb, and Manhattan has become an eerie demilitarized zone—but Sternbergh is not merely re-creating The Road or any of the countless other novels that posit what happens after the bomb. Spademan was a garbage man before Manhattan was nuked. Now he has a new job: a hit man for hire (have box cutter, will use it) walking the city’s desolate streets. Those streets have become desolate for a very peculiar reason. While Central Park is a twenty-first-century Hooverville, home to the dislocated poor, the rich have taken to their beds but not just any beds: these special contraptions connect their inhabitants to the “limnosphere,” a new kind of Internet that allows its users to construct their own virtual world and live there permanently. When Spademan agrees to kill the daughter of a famous televangelist but then falls in love with her instead, he attempts to transform himself from hit man to avenging angel, which requires some dexterous jumping from postapocalyptic reality to limnosphere (have box cutter, will time travel). Like Nick Harkaway in Angelmaker (2012), Sternbergh, culture editor for the New York Times Magazine, combines stunning narrative sleight-of-hand with an ability to create flesh-and-blood characters who bring humor and a resilient humanity to their torn-asunder world. Mixing dystopian science fiction and urban noir with a Palahniuk swagger, this could well be the first novel everybody is talking about over the next few months.
HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Extensive online and social-media promotion will combine with mainstream marketing to set this debut on its way. Oh, and that movie deal with Warner Brothers won’t hurt, either.
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