An ambitious, often engaging adventure through time.

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LIGHT OF HONOR

From the Primeval Origins series , Vol. 2

Vonsik (Paths of Anguish, 2014) offers the second book in a fantasy series in which ancient and modern times converge.

Graduate student Nikki Ricks is onboard a ship called the Wind Runner, somewhere in the Caribbean. The craft has been traveling at high speeds in an attempt to evade United Nations ships. It’s soon apparent, though, that such maneuvers are for naught. It’s not long before futuristic goons known as Tyr Soldiers board the Wind Runner, looking to seize its strange cargo: two unconscious, seemingly non-human beings from a time long ago, named Rogaan and Aren. Just as all seems lost for Nikki and her fellow passengers, readers are transported back to ancient times—specifically, Rogaan and Aren’s era, which features ferocious beasts and complex civilizations. Here, the narrative picks up where the series’ first installment left off. Rogaan and others are on their way to free their parents from their captors in the city of Farratum. It’s a quest that doesn’t seem likely to succeed—particularly after Rogaan and company become prisoners themselves. There’s a sliver of hope, though, because Rogaan is occasionally capable of feats of great strength and violence. As he’s tested morally and physically, will he be able to save himself and the others from captivity? And what about Aren, a fellow prisoner who frequently sees spinning symbols in his head? Vonsik delivers a story that’s always alive with possibilities, and it keeps readers guessing about how it will link back to Nikki’s future narrative. Although it’s clear from the start that Aren and Rogaan will survive their ordeal, readers will wonder what it is about them that interests a sinister U.N. But even as these unanswered questions create a sense of urgency, some of the dialogue drags things down. Characters often announce their intentions, for example, as when a guard gives the order to imprison the heroes “and leave them be unless they cause more trouble.” The plot’s bigger picture, though, remains intriguing, and readers will be curious about the next installment.

An ambitious, often engaging adventure through time.

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-578-17256-9

Page Count: 292

Publisher: Celestial Fury Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 10, 2017

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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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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