Dahlia Black

Atria. Aug. 2019. 288p. ISBN 9781501156717. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781501156731. SF
This novel of first contact is packaged as a serious nonfiction account of events that begin in the year 2023, when astronomer Dahlia Mitchell first intercepts a signal from deep space known as the Pulse. With copious footnotes and interview transcripts, it describes the events of the Pulse and how that signal came to alter the very nature of humanity. From the start, Thomas (The Clarity) lets readers know that the Pulse brought genetic changes that result in global disaster. He builds a sense of dread by walking us through the events as they occur, mostly via the lens of the politicians whose job it was to spin tales to the public, alongside journal entries from Dahlia Mitchell, one of the first to experience the transformative effects of the Pulse.
VERDICT The documentary approach causes some emotional distance, and the sheer amount of footnotes slows reader engagement, but there is plenty of narrative tension to keep the pages turning. Recommended for fans of Sylvain Neuvel’s Sleeping Giants or Max Brooks’s World War Z.

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