It began with a comet. At first, people gazed in wonder at the radiant tear in the sky. A year later, the celestial marvel became a planetary crisis when Earth spun through the comet's debris field and the sky rained fire.
The town of Northfall, Minnesota will never be the same. Meteors cratered hardwood forests and annihilated homes, and among the wreckage a new metal was discovered. This "omnimetal" has properties that make it world-changing as an energy source ... and a weapon. John Frontier—the troubled scion of an iron-ore dynasty in Northfall—returns for his sister's wedding to find his family embroiled in a cutthroat war to control mineral rights and mining operations.
The Ninth Metal unfolds primarily in Northfall, a formerly sleepy Minnesota town Percy describes in loving detail ... It’s a busy town, and a busy book. After an intriguing start, The Ninth Metal buries its promise under metric tons of story ... Percy, author of genre thrillers like The Dark Net and Red Moon, is deft at catching attention with sharp lines of dialogue or bursts of action, especially to round out a chapter ... But The Ninth Metal shifts too frequently among its many characters, piling up the love stories and back stories and side stories, making it hard to develop a rooting interest in any ... There are occasional intriguing glimpses of the ninth metal’s otherworldly origins, but they are swept away in the rapid-fire series of violent confrontations that wrap up the various plots.
Percy seems to be paying homage to a very different fictional narrative over the course of this novel—and it’s an unexpected delight ... The Ninth Metal’s crime-fiction bones help keep the more fantastical elements of the narrative grounded ... The sense of something larger happening, of which John and his family are on the fringes, grows steadily over the course of the book; by the end, it’s done a fine job of setting the stage for the larger world Percy is building out.
Percy (Suicide Woods, 2019) is an accomplished superhero comic writer, and that aesthetic is evident from page one. The plot is dynamic, featuring multiple viewpoints as well as corporate malfeasance, spooky cults, and family drama. This sounds complicated, and it is, but all of these moving parts work together due to strong characterization ... The action is vivid without being too graphic, contributing to an overall cinematic feel ... Recommended for fans of Brandon Sanderson’s Reckoners series or Vicious by V. E. Schwab.