Next book

THE GREAT BEING

A somewhat uneven but enthralling tale of humanity’s origins and cosmic espionage.

In Harvey’s retelling of the creation myth, heavenly agents combat a growing rebellion unfolding on Earth.

Billions of years ago, the Nothingness begins creating a new multiverse. Ultimately adopting the name The Great Being, He makes avatars to which He grants free will. Hardhearted Lucifer uses his free will to rebel, creating his personal line of avatars, who then reproduce on their own. To contend with Lucifer’s mounting forces, The Great Being forms the Agents of Cosmic Intelligence. Agents Layla and Melchizedek’s first mission takes place on Earth: They’re born into human bodies (as twin siblings) with “newly-evolved brains.” As they gradually teach Neanderthals language, they run into a serious problem—the two periodically forget their true identities. This becomes a greater concern on their next mission, which begins 160,000 years later. They return to Earth to take over two recently expired male bodies and become part of a tribe. The mission details aren’t immediately clear, though Layla and “Melchi” encounter a leader who may very well be one of Lucifer’s rebels. As the agents once again lose themselves in their human forms, the rebels (“awakened” in human bodies) can’t be sure if these warriors secretly belong to The Great Being’s intelligence branch. The rebels have “altered” human brains, which are inclined to “[take] over” entirely, and everyone has trouble remembering who they really are. In the book’s final third, yet another Earthbound mission sees five agents mingling with a host of biblical figures, including Abram (Abraham), Nimrod, and Lot.

Much of Harvey’s first installment in this new series is conceptual. That’s perfectly understandable when The Great Being forms ideas and creatures from nothing, but once the agents take on human bodies and interact with others on Earth, the meager character descriptions are much harder to accept. (The two corpses that Layla and Melchi “revive” are simply identified as “one blonde and the other darker of hair and skin.”) In the same vein, certain narrative elements pop up with nary an explanation, such as the rebels’ Planetary Command and the Free Will Zone. There’s a “cosmic smartphone,” which is unquestionably amusing but narratively immaterial; it “[functions] almost as well as” the telepathy that both agents and rebels commonly use to communicate. Still, this story deftly explores human nature—the uplifting qualities and dour traits alike: In the first mission, the often-genial agents nearly succumb to their own egos, merely over a disagreement about who concocted a successful but relatively minor plan. While the two strive to teach the humans compassion, the Earthly tribespeople seem much more interested in battle than in seeking peaceful solutions to problems. The second mission (and the longest, narratively) delightfully zeroes in on the question of identity as Layla and Melchi, on Earth primarily to teach, are sometimes driven to adopt the same behaviors and beliefs as humans. Layla’s personal confusion is particularly intriguing, as developing feelings for Melchi (her former teacher) ostensibly conflict with her male body’s sexual attraction to his wife.

A somewhat uneven but enthralling tale of humanity’s origins and cosmic espionage.

Pub Date: March 1, 2024

ISBN: 9780918538215

Page Count: 261

Publisher: The Human Effectiveness Institute

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2024

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 142


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 142


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 138


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 138


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

Close Quickview