A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.

WHEN PLANETS FALL

From the Stars Fall Circle series

In this YA sci-fi debut, an alien world plays host to conflict among three humanoid tribes.

Scarlatti is a planet lit by two suns in the Gemelos System. Sharing this world are the Herons (who bleed green), the Elik (who bleed blue), and the Humans (who bleed red). Each tribe exists within strictly enforced borders, and trespassers invite murder. Eighteen-year-old Breaker is a Human repairman who lost his older brother, Brandon, to such internecine conflict. Breaker also lost his leg, which has been replaced with a cybernetic limb that he affectionately calls Circuit. One day—or dia, as the Scarlatti say—Breaker chases after his 13-year-old brother, Brody, who has sneaked from the Human compound into danger beyond the border. In the wilderness, Breaker encounters a hidden spaceship. Meanwhile, in the Elik’s glass city of Houtiri, the Human Malani celebrates the Twin Suns Festival with her crush, Fic. She’s quite the anomaly among the Elik, since she was kidnapped as a child and given an experimental set of metal wings. Malani’s bliss is short-lived when Heron fighters assault the festival, killing scores of innocents and making her a prisoner once more. In Heron captivity, she learns that their ruler, King Oma, fears the Elik military and desires its secrets. While Malani holds out through torture, she meets another imprisoned Human, one with a cybernetic leg. In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away. Scarlatti, like a lush Mars, is evoked in lines like “From the burgundy and blush trees to the carmine peaks to the ruby glow of the suns, this land wore a blanket of blood.” The plot echoes real-world tyranny when King Oma manipulates Breaker and Malani to unlock the spaceship’s technology, thereby gaining the advantage when war ignites. The Humans too are ready to accommodate the Herons, believing that their red blood originates on Scarlatti. Yet, as Malani says, when you share someone’s home “all other details fade like background music.”

A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.

Pub Date: May 10, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-68291-310-9

Page Count: 420

Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2017

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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