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So I stumbled upon this ARC and thought is sounded kinda interesting in a fairly generic sci fi novel way Boy was I wrong Its been a very long time since I have been so into a solid sci fi story and Keith Thomas s Dahlia Black a truly unique, pure sci fi story.The year is 2028 Five years earlier the Pulse was discovered by Dr Dahlia Mitchell, an astronomer at the University of California Santa Cruz, leading to the greatest transformation of human society in history Unlike many authors before him, journalist Keith Thomas sets out to understand the Pulse from a personal perspective of those affected both directly and indirectly by the alien code and what came after.This book is truly unique in its approach to storytelling Author Keith Thomas sets up his novel not in traditional style, but as if writing a non fiction historical account of first contact with an alien species Instead of experiencing the event as it happens, Thomas starts us off after the fact and peels back the layers of truth and speculation surrounding the events with personal interviews, diary entries and recorded interview transcripts to paint a picture of not only the event itself, but life afterward It is a masterful and powerful storytelling technique that works wonderfully well and draws you into the story deeper and deeper, keeping the reader engaged and excited right through the end.I cannot praise this book enough It is very much a top favorite of mine and one I wholeheartedly recommend for all readers, not just those sci fi aficionados. This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.I am ambivalent about this novel I didn t dislike it, but it was rather dull It s a solid 2.5.The basic premise is that this is a faux documentary style account of an apocalyptic event It s a combination of interviews, transcriptions, and diary entries organized in chronological order to give an overview of the phenomenon called The Pulse The titular Dahlia is the scientist who discovered that aliens were beaming a signal to earth, which has momentous consequences Momentous to the people in the story For me, it wasn t that exciting It s easy to compare this novel to World War Z The only difference is that WWZ takes a interesting approach to the format Dahlia Black is didactic and constrained by its structure The novel fails at being a found text for two reasons The first is Dahlia s diaries they are not written like a diary They are written like a blog post or report, in that she explains things that are clearly for our benefit i.e., what dark matter is Why would she explain this to herself It didn t feel real The other reason was that everything is there for the reader we are given the reason, the reactions, the result of the Pulse We aren t left with any questions WWZ and others of the found text genre i.e House of Leaves let the readers fill in some blanks and make connections, or deliberately make us question what is true We only needed one or two of Dahlia s entries, because the rest were repetitive I can t say a lot about the characters as they aren t really characters, in that they are mainly interviewees though I appreciated the gender and racial diversity The lack of characterization is also why I m so nonchalant about the novel We re given the perspective of people who didn t experience anything tangible Part of what made WWZ so great was the short story aspect we re given different perspectives on the same thing to flesh out the story and make it real The characters in those stories had personality This novel was boring The only good chapter was the little boy at the hospital because it was told by someone who was there Everything else is in second hand or a bird s eye view The massacres, the discovery of powers all this would have been super engaging and emotionally resonant as first person accounts either by the person or a loved one watching it happen Also, what was with the conspiracy angle It contributed nothing to the story.All in all, this novel had a clever idea but failed to execute it in a way that was compelling I m sorry if most of the review seems negative, I just can t recall anything I loved about the book Further Comments that didn t affect my rating There was a moment that made me laugh Someone uses a metaphor about getting a burst of power from shifting a car from second to fourth This is not how standard cars work If you really want to slam a car into a faster RPM, you drop from a higher gear to a lower I know, I ve done it a lot I only buy standard cars But given this is an ARC, hopefully someone caught that metaphor and fixed it I must also add that the endnotes annoyed me I would much rather have preferred footnotes because by the time the chapter ended I didn t remember what the footnote was referring to Given I was reading an ARC, this might be only true to my kindle version. You can read this review and on my blog.What attracted me to this book is its comparison with World War Z the book, not the awful movie I loved WWZ and its then new take on the zombie apocalypse I loved that the author chose to tell the story of what happened AFTER the end of the world as we know it That it was as much a tale of fighting the zombies as one of rebuilding a life in a new reality where they existed So another story about civilization coping with a world changing event and rebuilding after it I was all in Unfortunately, the only way this book IS like WWZ is that it s a collection of fictional interviews and diary entries It is also very, unimaginatively boring I kept hoping that there would be some emotional reward or grand revelation if only I kept reading, but I turned the last page and the only thought in my head was, why waste 288 pages on THAT view spoiler The whole story can be summed up in four steps 1 There is a mysterious Pulse from space that alters human DNA 2 About 30% of people are susceptible to the Pulse and change, becoming the Elevated From those, about 1 3 die during the transformation 3 The surviving Elevated disappear from our reality into a parallel dimension during the Finality 4 The other 70% of the world s population learn to keep on living hide spoiler Thank you to NetGalley and Atria books for my free advanced review copy All thoughts and opinions are my own.This is an interesting one In the fine tradition of unconventionally formatted scifi rooted in the real world think Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel Dahlia Black sets out to tell a unique and fascinating story Something in outer space is sending a transmission that can rewrite human DNA And the rewritten people either died from the strain of the change or vanished.This book is set 5 years later, in the form of a non fiction book about the events, focusing on Dr Dahlia Mitchell, who discovered the transmission and soon became the face of the end of the world as we know it The book takes the form of interviews, transcripts of conversations, diary entries, letters, and phone calls, with small bits of narrator driven text in between The style created a very interesting narrative distance that I found really enhanced the story It gave the author the freedom to deviate from a small group of characters, instead bringing in anecdotes from victims and survivors around the country By breaking up the information and giving us many different viewpoints, the narrator was able to really develop this world.Unfortunately, the pace dropped off quite a bit in the second half The individual component stories lacked the tension that earlier anecdotes possessed And the conspiracy theory seemed thrown in as an afterthought it popped up a few times throughout but didn t seem to have overarching ramifications in the present world ie the world in which this story is a newly published nonfiction I started wondering why it mattered, which is when the formatting was really losing its weight.I did like the characters and the attention to detail The footnotes were fun and made the style seem real I m definitely going to look into reading this author s previous book and will keep an eye out for any future stories If you want an unconventional scifi tale set in what is essentially our world as we know it, this is a great book to pick up Like World War Z, but with aliens Full disclosure I received a free e ARC for review through Netgalley Trigger warning for violence and mental health issues, including suicide In 1977, the whole world turned towards the stars We wanted to believe there was intelligent life somewhere out there And we hoped that if we could reach them, maybe they d reach back Voyager 1, this satellite dish with bristling antenna, was a message in a bottle Our way of letting the galaxy know we existed That we were out here if anyone wanted to find us Over the next forty years, the probe flew past Jupiter and Saturn before it drifted into the void, swallowed up by a silent universe Or so we thought Truth is, our message didn t go unheard The universe reached back and changed everything Not with war or an invasion but with a whisper Almost overnight, all that we knew transformed And I saw it happen.I am not an incubator, but my head has become an executable.On October 17, 2023, a rouge astronomer named Dahlia Mitchell unwittingly picks up a signal originating from farthest reaches of space Rather than the sound of a dying star or an errant transmission from the breakroom microwave, Dahlia and her colleagues quickly realize that this signal is intentional, complex, and was most likely purposefully directed at earth by the members of an intelligent species The signal is dubbed the Pulse Code, owing to its similarity to a computer code as opposed to, say, an attempt at communication or contact Before the president and her cabinet can formulate an action plan, the Pulse begins working its nerdy magic Once received, the Pulse got right down to business, altering the brains of roughly 30% of the earth s population Initially, those affected experienced visual and auditory hallucinations They saw, heard, felt, and tasted things others couldn t, from electromagnetic radiation and ultraviolet colors, to the ultrasonic songs of mice and insects, and gravitational waves One woman was able to taste things with her fingers, like a fly Many claimed to be able to see ghosts Before long the Elevated, as they would be known, manifested enhanced cognitive abilities they could calculate new forms of mathematics, develop innovative computer algorithms, uncover unseen biological processes, and create unimaginable works of art In the end, they simply vanished pulled, perhaps, into that other dimension they saw, overlaid on top of our own Yet many as much as 15% of the infected, by some accounts succumbed to the changes prior to the Finality, their bodies too weak to withstand the demands placed on them In a scant five years, the global population dropped from 7.7 billion to 2.5 billion In addition to the 3 billion people killed or disappeared by the Ascendant aka our alien overlords billions were murdered in the resulting violence and chaos Now it s five years on, and a reporter named Keith Thomas is trying to make sense of the Pulse Code Disclosure How One Woman s Discovery Led to the Greatest Event in Human History is the result Thomas weaves together original interviews with historical documents, police transcripts, diary entries, and illicit files in order to deconstruct the Pulse and its aftermath So this is a really fun read, and comparisons to World War Z are spot on I enjoy the change of pace that faux nonfiction books constructed of various files offer, and Dahlia Black is no exception It s kind of like World War Z in this way, but with aliens Or like Sylvain Neuvel s Themis Files trilogy, but with a whimper instead of a bang The latter has giant weaponized alien robots, so there s that I had a lot of, um, fun following Thomas on this ride, as he imagines what a world suddenly devoid of than half its population might look like Fun in scare quotes because many of the events outlined here are downright horrifying, particularly because they have happened in the past and will no doubt replicate themselves in the future Just take the reference to deepfakes which I just learned about on an episode of Full Frontal with Samantha Bee a few short months ago used four years from now to foment mob violence against the Elevated There s also a great conspiracy theory subplot that adds another layer of intrigue and general gruesomeness to the story Yes, I m talking about the girl with two spinal columns Dahlia Black is a great summer read that would also make a great summer blockbuster Just don t do it like Brad Pitt s World War Z, okay That shit was disappointing P.S I also await the comic book adaptation. I received this book as an eARC by the publishers via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.I loved World War Z so when I saw that this book was written in a similar interview based style I knew I had to read it Overall, I really enjoyed this book It was incredibly factual and well thought out for a fictional event that changes human history It was incredibly interesting and the author definitely has a talent for making mind boggling concepts easier to understand for the average reader It was a bit dry due to the interviews mixed with lots of data but I found myself so wrapped up in the interviews and other entries that I really didn t mind Fantastic book for people that liked World War Z s fictional but realistic interviews or people that like reading about alien contact. I really wish I could say I liked this book a whole bunch than I did because there are some really compelling ideas here that just never develop into anything very interesting I originally picked up this book because of the title I figured a science fiction novel featuring the Black Dahlia killer would have to be interesting, but the book actually has nothing to do with the Black Dahlia it s just that one of the characters is named Dahlia Black I checked the interwebs to find out if Dahlia Black is a legit name and apparently there is an ex wrestler named Dahlia Black who makes candles and either likes kiwis or is from New Zealand So what s the book about A woman discovers a transmission from space while searching for proof of dark matter The message is actually an interplanetary trojan virus that hacks human DNA and causes people to get super smart or mutate or just die There s also a shadowy conspiracy that has known about the transmission and has been exposing people to since the 60 s So now you re thinking to yourself, this seems like an interesting premise for a sci fi book, so why d he only give it three stars The problem for the book is that it s all set up and then nothing I don t mean it gets boring or just sort of meanders I mean the transmission is discovered, people freak out, a conspiracy is discovered, and the end Guide to my review scores 5 stars You should read this yesterday.4 stars Like a brownie without walnuts, still good, but could have been great.3 stars Like Icarus, it flew a little too close to the sun 2 stars If you woke up in a Tijuana jail with no recollection of the night before and only this book, you might still be better off counting the cracks in the ceiling 1 star Gift it to John Wayne Gacy. I enjoyed this book to an extent It seemed a little top down in its telling Essentially, the story is wanting of some different points of view at times As much as Dahlia s character is fantastic, the others, especially the scientists, melt into each other My problem with this review is that I don t want to give up to much of the plot to explain my issues I just didn t feel like the end payoff holds up too well, especially after knowing the ending of the the plot.Read this one for a good dystopian, alien attack aftermath oral history It may be a bit uneven, but the protagonist is savvy and realistic.3.5 out of 5 stars.For my full review all my reviews (FREE) â Dahlia Black ñ For Fans Of World War Z And The Southern Reach Trilogy, A Suspenseful Oral History Commemorating The Five Year Anniversary Of The Pulse The Alien Code That Hacked The DNA Of Earth S Population And The Response Team Who Faced The World Changing Phenomenon Voyager Was A Message In A Bottle Our Way Of Letting The Galaxy Know We Existed That We Were Out Here If Anyone Wanted To Find Us Over The Next Forty Years, The Probe Flew Past Jupiter And Saturn Before It Drifted Into The Void, Swallowed Up By A Silent Universe Or So We ThoughtTruth Is, Our Message Didn T Go UnheardDiscovered By Dr Dahlia Black, The Mysterious Pulse Was Sent By A Highly Intelligent Intergalactic Species That Called Themselves The Ascendants It Soon Becomes Clear This Alien Race Isn T Just Interested In Communication They Are Capable Of Rewriting Human DNA, In An Astonishing Process They Call The Elevation Five Years After The Pulse, Acclaimed Journalist Keith Thomas Sets Out To Make Sense Of The Event That Altered The World Thomas Travels Across The Country To Interview Members Of The Task Force Who Grappled To Decode The Pulse And Later Disseminated Its Exact Nature To Worried Citizens He Interviews The Astronomers Who Initially Doubted Black S Discovery Of The Pulse An Error That Critics Say Led To The World S Quick Demise Thomas Also Hears From Witnesses Of The Elevation And People Whose Loved Ones Vanished In The Finality, An Event That, To This Day, Continues To Puzzle Pulse Researchers, Even Though Theories Abound About The Ascendants Motivation Including Never Before Published Transcripts From Task Force Meetings, Diary Entries From Black, And Candid Interviews With Ballard, Thomas Also Shows In Dahlia Black How A Select Few Led Their Country In Its Darkest Hours, Toward A New Level Of Humanity An unusual book written in the year 2028 by a journalist documenting an alien contact event Even has a bibliography of books published in the mid 2020 s It s done in an interview format of key people involved in the experience, including scientists and public figures such as the President of the U.S Also transcripts of various task force meetings and the diary of the discovering scientist At times I got a bit confused with the format as to who was talking and whether it was current or in the past Still, overall, an intriguing story but with a somewhat unsatisfying ending Would like to have learned about the Ascendants and the people who disappeared in the Finality Perhaps a sequel