A riveting series starter about a future world and its remarkable inhabitants.

HUMANS

VOLUME 1: THE MARK

In Yates’ YA SF debut, teenagers journey outside their domed city and discover the true nature of their 22nd-century, post-apocalyptic planet.

Cathy is one of the Eight, otherwise known as the members of the Elite Unit, in 2125. A century before, the Ecological Wars nearly wiped out humanity, and the few survivors founded and formed a society called the Red World. Cathy and her fellow 18-year-olds have been training for the past decade to become the Red World’s leaders. Each of the Eight has special abilities; some are unique, such as Tabitha’s “exceptional hearing,” and others are shared, such as telepathy. They live in domed Kantas City, whose current administration keeps the population in check by occasionally expelling people. The Eight, however, don’t always agree with the leaders; at one point, Cathy, Leah, and James kill several soldiers to keep them from murdering “foragers” outside Kantas City—an incident that they then cover up. They see the world outside Red World during a 10-day shuttle trip, which is their final test before they begin their next phase of training. Using coordinates from a Red World–defying Rebel and hacker, the Eight secretly travel to places where survivors live. They learn that their leaders—and some of their parents—have been deceiving them. Yates’ tale, the first in a prospective series, takes place in a detailed dystopia. The Red World has a few advantages—racism is said to no longer exist—but there are considerably more defects. The characters are compelling and multilayered, and Yates effectively shrouds the novel in mystery. For example, she offers few specifics about the Mark that all Elite Unit members have on their left shoulders. She also uses short, alternating chapters that tell stories of numerous characters before, during, and after the Ecological Wars; these are initially confusing, although their purpose eventually becomes clear. By the end, there are still plenty of elements remaining for sequels to explore.

A riveting series starter about a future world and its remarkable inhabitants.

Pub Date: May 24, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-359-68543-1

Page Count: 210

Publisher: Lulu

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...

SUMMER ISLAND

Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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TRUE BETRAYALS

Thoroughbreds and Virginia blue-bloods cavort, commit murder, and fall in love in Roberts's (Hidden Riches, 1994, etc.) latest romantic thriller — this one set in the world of championship horse racing. Rich, sheltered Kelsey Byden is recovering from a recent divorce when she receives a letter from her mother, Naomi, a woman she has believed dead for over 20 years. When Kelsey confronts her genteel English professor father, though, he sheepishly confesses that, no, her mother isn't dead; throughout Kelsey's childhood, she was doing time for the murder of her lover. Kelsey meets with Naomi and not only finds her quite charming, but the owner of Three Willows, one of the most splendid horse farms in Virginia. Kelsey is further intrigued when she meets Gabe Slater, a blue-eyed gambling man who owns a neighboring horse farm; when one of Gabe's horses is mated with Naomi's, nostrils flare, flanks quiver, and the romance is on. Since both Naomi and Gabe have horses entered in the Kentucky Derby, Kelsey is soon swept into the whirlwind of the Triple Crown, in spite of her family's objections to her reconciliation with the notorious Naomi. The rivalry between the two horse farms remains friendly, but other competitors — one of them is Gabe's father, a vicious alcoholic who resents his son's success — prove less scrupulous. Bodies, horse and human, start piling up, just as Kelsey decides to investigate the murky details of her mother's crime. Is it possible she was framed? The ground is thick with no-goods, including haughty patricians, disgruntled grooms, and jockeys with tragic pasts, but despite all the distractions, the identity of the true culprit behind the mayhem — past and present — remains fairly obvious. The plot lopes rather than races to the finish. Gambling metaphors abound, and sexual doings have a distinctly equine tone. But Roberts's style has a fresh, contemporary snap that gets the story past its own worst excesses.

Pub Date: June 13, 1995

ISBN: 0-399-14059-X

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1995

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