An ambitious, if sometimes-flummoxing, dystopian offering.

BORN TO BE BOUND

Alpha males and Omega women clash in this erotic fantasy novel about the power dynamics of sex and gender.

It’s a great risk for Omega woman Claire to enter Thólos Citadel, where brutish Alpha males live, but she has no choice. Disguised and ostensibly aided by blue pills that she’s been taking that suppress her “heat,” she seeks a man named “the Shepherd,” who may be able to help her; the few Omega women left are starving, and Claire is on a mission to save them. Shepherd rescues her from a dangerous situation, but he’s also quick to take advantage of her sexually, as she’s currently fertile, or “broadcasting a heat cycle.” He then reveals that he wants to enslave the Omega women, not help them. Claire is trapped for weeks before she can escape and get the help of Corday, a Beta male who has more free will than other men. It turns out that something more menacing is planned for the Omegas and that the blue pills that Claire has been taking are not at all what they seem. As tensions rise between the Omegas and the Alphas, more is revealed about Claire’s history. Intense dialogue keeps the story moving, although it’s sometimes muddled by the extensive jargon (“pair-bonded,” “Da’rin markings,” “castoffs”) that populates the novel. There’s no shortage of drama as alliances form and surprising betrayals are revealed. The dynamic between the men and women in this dystopia is a disturbing allegory, and the erotic scenes between Claire and the Shepherd start as sensual and become violent. However, the secondary characters, including the kind Corday and the spirited Nona, one of the Omega women, are ultimately more intriguing than Shepherd and Claire’s tortured relationship. There are apparent attempts to make Shepherd into a more sympathetic character, but readers will likely find it hard to see him as anything more than the brute he is.

An ambitious, if sometimes-flummoxing, dystopian offering.

Pub Date: April 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-68259-398-1

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Blushing Books Publications

Review Posted Online: Sept. 3, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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