THE BEAUTIFUL LAND
Readers will be hooked from the first brilliant sentence (“Tak can’t answer the phone because the noose is too tight”) of Averill’s stunning debut. It’s easy to see why The Beautiful Land won the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award: This is a story that effortlessly combines genuine emotional, internal conflict with an engrossing page-turner of a plot. Both Tak and Samira are flawed, fascinating protagonists who confront their own demons while going up against a devious and powerful foe.
Just as Takahiro O’Leary is about to commit suicide in a run-down motel room, he receives a phone call. It seems the Axon Corporation is intrigued by the former reality-star adventurer and they’d like him to go on several explorations — of parallel timelines. Samira Moheb, Tak’s best friend since childhood, is struggling with severe PTSD as she prepares for her fourth tour of duty as an army translator. Without warning, Tak drops in on Sam, pleading with her to join him on an unauthorized timeline-jump. Pursued by Axon, a deranged scientist and giant, terrifying birdlike creatures, Tak and Sam scramble to prevent the fate of the world from being rewritten. (ACE, Jun., 368 pp., $16.00)