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Pub Date 01 Nov 2023 | Archive Date 31 Oct 2023

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When a massive asteroid hurtles toward Earth, humanity braces for annihilation—but the end doesn’t come. In fact, it isn’t an asteroid but a three-mile-tall alien that drops down, seemingly dead, outside Little Springs, Nebraska. Dubbed “the giant,” its arrival transforms the red-state farm town into a top-secret government research site and major metropolitan area, flooded with soldiers, scientists, bureaucrats, spies, criminals, conspiracy theorists—and a murderer.

As the sheriff of Little Springs, David Blunt thought he’d be keeping the peace among the same people he’d known all his life, not breaking up chanting crowds of conspiracy theorists in tiger masks or struggling to control a town hall meeting about the construction of a mosque. As a series of brutal, bizarre murders strikes close to home, Blunt throws himself into the hunt for a killer who seems connected to the Giant. With bodies piling up and tensions in Little Springs mounting, he realizes that in order to find the answers he needs, he must first reconcile his old worldview with the town he now lives in—before it’s too late.

When a massive asteroid hurtles toward Earth, humanity braces for annihilation—but the end doesn’t come. In fact, it isn’t an asteroid but a three-mile-tall alien that drops down, seemingly dead...

Advance Praise

“Van Jensen delivers the sense-bending strange in this tale of mystery and wonder.”—Gary Phillips, author of One-Shot Harry

“I felt slapped awake by Godfall’s brilliant conceit and the profound change witnessed in a small town that suddenly finds itself on a global—and even cosmic—stage. This book is thought-provoking, awe-inspiring, and visionary but always grounded in human particulars.”—Benjamin Percy, writer of Wolverine for Marvel Comics and author of The Ninth Metal and Red Moon

Godfall is a fresh and surprising genre mashup, bringing a laconic small-town sheriff together with a crash-landed alien and a series of brutal killings, beautifully interweaving otherworldly images and naturalistic details of rural Nebraska life. Van Jensen is a terrific writer, and I was under the book’s strange and extraordinary spell from start to finish!”—Dan Chaon, author of Sleepwalk

Godfall is the genre-mashup novel of my dreams. With breathtaking imagery and razor-sharp prose, Van Jensen gives us a story that is part alien sci-fi, part mystery—with a doomsday cult, a serial killer, and a dash of Sandhill cranes—all set against the beautiful backdrop of rural Nebraska.”—Erin Flanagan, Edgar Award–winning author of Deer Season and Blackout

Godfall blends rural noir with a daring dose of sci-fi to create something wholly new and engaging. Van Jensen comes in hot with his [fiction] debut.”—Alex Segura, author of Secret Identity and Miami Midnight

“It isn’t easy to infuse magical realism with grit, but Godfall does it with panache. I was under Van Jensen’s spell from the first chapter. A striking debut novel from one of my favorite writers.”—Kevin Maurer, coauthor of No Easy Day and author of Damn Lucky

“Van Jensen delivers the sense-bending strange in this tale of mystery and wonder.”—Gary Phillips, author of One-Shot Harry

“I felt slapped awake by Godfall’s brilliant conceit and the profound...

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ISBN 9781496235213
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Average rating from 22 members

Featured Reviews

I'm not usually a fan of genre-mashing, but this was utterly brilliant. As a murder mystery, it was as good as any I've read. After a giant alien crash lands outside a small town in Nebraska, the town sheriff must deal with the military, which has taken "possession" of the giant; the population explosion; and, finally, a serial killer. If I have to deal with a level of disbelief, it's actually much easier to do so because of the sci-fi element rather than because a character is doing something unbelievable. I was also okay with not having every bit tied up in a bow. Highly recommended, and I do hope Jensen writes another book soon. He's definitely on my pre-order list now.

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WOW. Thank you Netgalley for this advanced reader copy of Godfall by Van Jensen. I had no idea what to expect going into this book and I wasn't disappointed at all. It's a combination of sci fi, police procedural serial killer thriller, and existential clusterfucks. I loved everything about this, and the writing style was beautiful, atmospheric, and kept me hooked the entire way through. What an interesting concept, which the author noted came from a dream he had (in the acknowledgments section) - this makes sense! Can't wait for it to be published so more people can read this beautiful, poignant, suspenseful, twisty book.

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Well written murder mystery thriller with a slight bit of science fiction to help make the book run. The author writes a compelling narrative about a conservative small town that is forced quickly to become a small city due to the presence of an alien entity. I have a few quibbles about how the town feels both small and large and the author is trying to indicate that the city is now too large for one sheriff to manage but throughout the book, the town continues to read and feel like a small town. There's also a lack of understanding about how government and military teams work together and it's also unbelievable that with a city that is growing so quickly that they would literally not make any major changes to the structure of the town to account for sudden and expansive growth. The twist was quite good though and I feel there could be a whole other book about the actual alien presence itself. That said, that's not what the author was focused on but rather the dynamics of change in a small community.

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Wow! What a fun and exciting read! When I started reading this book, I intended to only read the first chapter or two. However, a few hours later , I was half way through the book. I could not put this book down - I cannot say enough about how much I enjoyed both this story as well as the worldbuilding around it. If you like science fiction or fantasy, you really need to read this book. Once this book is published, I will purchase a copy for myself as well as buy and donate a copy to my local library.

I haven't said much about the actual story on purpose; I do not want to give any plot points away by accident. The best way to read this book is to just start reading and ENJOY the amazing story!

Thanks to University of Nebraska Press and NetGalley for providing an early copy for me to read/review.

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This was an interesting mash up of sci fi and a police procedural/mystery. An interesting read! Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher!

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Thanks to the University of Nebraska Press and NetGalley for this digital ARC of Van Jensen's 'Godfall.'

A mysterious giant humanoid figure that looked like it would cause the destruction of planet Earth instead lands gently outside a small town in Nebraska. What a great setup for a very enjoyable crime/sci-fi novel from Van Jensen.

The sci-fi element is surprisingly muted - I don't want to give too much away - and I thought there'd be much more of it but the crime and national security elements are well set out and followed through. A stolid small-town sheriff already stretched to breaking point by having to deal with the explosive growth of his once one-horse-town and the increase in crime that follows is now faced with a seeming serial killer and has to work with various branches - known and unknown - of the US policing and national security apparatus.

The novel is laced with themes of rural neglect turning to urban growth and the suspicion and dislike/distrust of the outsider, whether that be the geographical, religious, socio-economic, physical, or gender-based outsider and they're generally well-handled.

I'd be happy to read a sequel of this book if Van Jensen was so inclined to write it.

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Don’t let the title or the advertised premise scare you away. This is much more of a procedural, complex serial killer story, with many intriguing side plots, than a pure sci-fi novel.
I gave it the following SCORE:
Setting: Present day, small town in western Nebraska
Characters: David Blunt, the sheriff of Little Springs, and a well-defined supporting cast of FBI, military, government officials, scientists, and local citizens
Overview: Sheriff Blunt is suddenly shaken from his mundane job to deal not only with the unlikely occurrence of a 3-mile-long alien crashing from the sky in his town but with what that brings – FBI, government and military, religious unrest, political problems, swarming tourists – and, worst, a suspected serial killer. The plot flows quickly with the parallel mysteries of the science of the alien and the chaos and crimes of the rapidly growing surrounding area.
Recommendation: I rate this book 4 stars
Extras: I hope this book does well enough to encourage a follow-up story that could explain more about the science and mystery of the alien as well as further develop the interesting cast of main characters.
Thanx to NetGalley and University of Nebraska Flyover Fiction Series for the opportunity to provide this candid review.

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Wow, this book "Godfall" is really amazing! I wasn't expecting it to be this good. It's about an alien that comes to a small town called Little Springs in Nebraska. People think it's an asteroid at first, but it's actually a huge alien that's three miles tall. It's not alive, but it changes everything in the town. Soldiers, scientists, spies, and even a murderer show up.

The main character is David, who's the sheriff of Little Springs. He thought he'd be dealing with normal stuff, but now he's facing a lot of crazy things, like conspiracy theorists and a killer. As the murders get worse, David tries to figure out if they're connected to the giant alien.

The science fiction part isn't too heavy if you're not into that. It's more like a thriller and a mystery. The characters, the story, and the setting are all great. I really loved everything about this book, which is rare for me. I didn't know what to expect, but I'm happy with what I got. It's a mix of sci-fi, mystery, and thriller. The writing is really good and keeps you interested.

The author said the idea came from a dream, and it's a cool concept. I can't wait for more people to read this suspenseful and twisty book. It's well-written and has a bit of science fiction to make it interesting. The story is about a small town that becomes a city because of an alien. The author did a good job describing the town's changes, but sometimes it still feels small. There are some things that don't make sense, like how the town grows so fast without changing. The twist in the story was good, and I think there could be more about the alien in another book.

The title might make you think it's all about sci-fi, but it's actually more about solving crimes. There are many interesting side stories too. If you like complex mysteries, this book is for you.

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[Blurb goes here]

A massive asteroid crashes on the outskirts of Little Springs, a small town in Nebraska. As it turns out, the object is humanoid in shape, a three-mile-tall dead alien. The town is soon transformed into a growing metropolitan area. Both the military and Nasa have put up bases there.

David Blunt, the town's sheriff, is now responsible for keeping order in the growing city. The townsfolk are resentful; they don't like the newcomers, and they hate that their once peaceful, albeit ruined farm town is growing.

With progress, the inhabitants of Little Springs become witness to the influx of unwanted people: new religious congregations, sects, drug dealers, and criminals.

Blunt's job is becoming exceedingly complicated. To make matters worst, there's a serial killer in their midst. For reasons unknown, the FBI is on the case. Might have something to do with the killer's M.O.

I loved a lot of things when diving into the story: the sheriff is depicted as what you've come to expect from a man brought up in a red state. He's not openly racist or misogynist, but there are a few hints here and there. He's set in his old ways, and progress is not something he wants to be a part of.

Every character has a part to play, and it's portrayed to perfection. Simple yet powerful dialogues are a testament to the author's prowess: there's no repetition between discourse and action.

I only have one small problem with the writing: Nasa or NASA is always written in lowercase; the same thing is true for NSA and FBI. These seem to be substitution errors that I'm sure will be fixed before the book hits the bookshelves.

While the giant creature is mostly part of the background, it was interesting to learn that most of the problems the population face are partly because of it crashing there.

The setting helps make the hunt for the serial killer something more interesting than a simple who-done-it. Actually, if you're reading this as a murder mystery, it still has a complex structure.

The side stories/back stories make for a well-rounded and excellent read. This is one of those rare novels that make me wish for a sequel.

This is an exciting read, one that kept me up at night, repeating to myself, "Just one more chapter..."

All in all, something you should add to your library.

Thank you for the advanced copy!

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This was wonderfully written, it had everything that I was hoping for in a scifi, mystery novel. I was hooked from the first page and was invested in what was happening this this small town. It was wonderfully done and work in the genre, I’m excited for more from this author and can’t wait for more.

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This has such an original, unique plot and I can say for once that I haven't read anything like it before. I'm not normally a fan of science fiction unless it's in movie form, but being a mashup of that and mystery I ended up really loving it. The science fiction aspect in this was put more simply for people like me, making it easy to follow along. While this involves a giant alien falling from the sky, it never seemed too far out there. The mystery aspect was also brilliant in itself and although there were red herrings here and there, I never did guess who the culprit was. The protagonist was extremely likeable and well developed. If you like mystery, read this. Even if you're not a fan of science fiction like myself, still give it a try. The only other thing I can say is that I pray there is a follow-up. Four and a half stars rounded up.

Thank you Netgalley and University of Nebraska Press for this ARC.

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I feel like I read a different book than the other reviewers. While I found it engaging, it telegraphed the ending pretty early. And I kept thinking to myself ‘that won’t be the big reveal, right? The author wouldn’t have set up this whole thing - I mean THERES A GD GIANT ALIEN JUST LAYING IN A FIELD - just to give us the obvious villain. Alas, that’s exactly what happened. No, let’s not go look into the amazing feat of miraculously coming out of dementia, let’s instead focus on the xenophobic assholes: I gotta admit, my scifi heart felt a bit betrayed.

As whodunnits go, I was never bored. That said, the author could’ve chosen less stereotypes to support the MC.

(Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to review.)

Edited to add: someone in another review suggested that a second book could dive deeper into the circumstances of the book’s set up and if that happened I think I could love this more. This story was engaging, it just could use more sci in the fi.

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“The words come first, then the sentence,”. That simple idea, first, shared by a grandmother to her grandson as he was an aspiring poet when a child, helps put everything together in the story. It’s also a great little quote that I’ll remember.

This is a book about a small town being transformed. It has some really big ideas. It’s also not sure if it’s a science fiction, a mystery, a government conspiracy or a serial killer story. It’s a little bit of all of them all mishmashed together to create a compelling drama. While It winds up with more questions, unanswered than answered, it’s also complete!

Well written, memorable characters, realistic dialogue, and a keen sense of Place all combined to make this worth putting on your nightstand. I enjoyed it.

I received an ARC from NetGalley.

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This book reminded me of a mix of Arrival and the Day the Earth Stood Still. I enjoy small-town mysteries, and this one had a sci-fi twist. I never read a book by Van Jansen, but I would definitely read another one.

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Unfortunately a dnf very early on for me. I came into this expecting a much more science fiction thriller type book, but this is (to me at least as someone who doesn’t usually read murder thrillers) pretty gritty. Part is from the murderer’s perspective, which is just not my jam.

I was also inordinately annoyed by the author’s choppy/fake poetic sentence structure.

I’ve rated it three stars to be fair because I didn’t read much of it and I think general thriller readers may enjoy it quite a bit!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for this arc!

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d all hell breaks loose. Dubbed “the giant or Gulliver,” its arrival transforms the red-state little farm town into a top-secret government research site and major metropolitan area, flooded with soldiers, scientists, bureaucrats, spies, criminals, conspiracy theorists, cults —and a murderer.

As a series of brutal, bizarre murders sweeps through his town, sheriff David Blunt throws himself into the hunt for a killer who seems oddly connected to the giant. Tensions are running high in his town ever since the alien fell, and David must work to find the killer before it is too late.

I have a lot of thoughts about this book - overall it was enjoyable and I liked it. Definitely more murder mystery vs sci-fi than I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it.

The good:
- I liked David Blunt, the sheriff and MC of the story. He was accurately depicted as how you would expect a man brought up in a small farm town in a red state. Moral compass, small town manners, stubborn, drinker, and hints of racism and misogyny without being outright horrible.
- Charlotte was an interesting twist/character, I won't spoil anything but I really enjoyed the angle she played in the book.
- The murder mystery was enjoyable. I was captivated and intrigued, and I liked the angle of the murder being obsessed with the alien/giant.
- The dialogue between the characters was really great - each person had their own mannerisms and voice and I enjoyed that.

The meh:
- It was a little confusing reading about the town itself. Is it a big city/town now? Is it still a small town with an adjoining big town? Is one side of the town dubbed 'old town' and secluded from the rest? I don't know, it was very confusing.
- If it was a big town, I find it highly doubtful they would not have reorganized the structural elements of the town. 2 police is not enough, and a volunteer fire department? Even tiny towns have a fire chief.
- The twist/ who the killer was. I was a little disappointed by how this panned out. It was a good story but I felt like it was set up early on and instead of a shocking twist, it was actually who I thought it was early on. It ties in really well with everything, I just was hoping for more of a shock factor - I kinda knew who it was already.
- The lack of sci-fi elements. There was a giant dead alien and a top secret government base and we didn't really focus on that? what? Tell me more!!

Truly I did enjoy this read, it was good! I just felt like things either weren't wrapped up (the dogs barking/dementia thing??) OR there is going to be a sequel. Personally I would definitely read a sequel if it dove deeper into the alien and the government facility and the things they are hiding there. That would be very interesting.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Godfall by Van Jensen was an intriguing look into a small town community whose world was impacted in more ways than one. I would recommend it to those who enjoy a murder mystery and who also like small town problems.

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A marvelous thought provoking book. It brings up questions about the state of the universe and the meaning of, well, everything. I heartily recommend it to anyone that loves a weird and interesting tale.

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