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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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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