Ebook Reviews: Return to the Lost Level and School’s Out by Brian Keene

5 03 2018


Return to the Lost Level by Brian Keene

Apex Publishing

Grade: A

In the second book in the series, Brian Keene cranks up the pulpy goodness to 11. Return to the Lost Levels offers a quest, some “new” characters, death defying (and not-quite-defying) action and just enough interdimensial weirdness to through me into full on squee mode. The Lost Level series is the perfect blend of modern science fiction concepts, classic pulpiness and Keene’s own special mythology. Yet must importantly, it’s pure joy to read. While I love the novel as a whole, the little side peeks into some of the alternate realities was the highlight for me, as well as the cool little short story attached to the end. The Lost Level series is the most fun I have had reading a print novel since Joe Lansdale’s Drive In series, and I can’t wait to see which roads Keene takes us down next.


schools out

School’s Out by Brian Keene

Grade: B

In School’s Out, Keene doesn’t break much new ground in the post apocalyptic world. Yet, where this novella stands out is in the voice of it’s main character and the pure visceralness of the writing. Inspired by his sons view of the apocalypse, Keene doesn’t cute it up. This isn’t some cozy apocalypse, but a brutal landscape seen through the eyes of a child. Keene doesn’t attempt to make his main character anything more than he is, a normal kid dealing with a situation that most adults would have trouble grasping. Keene delivers the tale in a way that brutally honest to kids, yet never gratuitously so. There is no agenda or attempts to teach moral lessons, just revealing a potential world as realistically as possible. I think this would be a good tale to read with a child, and may lead to some interesting conversations.