While convoluted in parts, this impossible-mission tale features an appealing hero.


From the Challenges of the Gods series , Vol. 1

A comedic sci-fi novel focuses on one man’s undercover quest to destroy Earth.

Debut author Hofsetz presents Mike Pohlt: a brilliant, young astrophysicist who has just come out of a coma. The problem is that, upon awakening, Mike suffers from amnesia. He cannot remember any of his friends, and many aspects of life on Earth baffle him. This is true because Mike is not really Mike. Unbeknown to those around him, the body of Mike is inhabited by a man named Zeon from the planet Jora. Jora is a lot like Earth, only more advanced in many ways. For instance, on Jora the idea of getting in a car that is not a self-driving vehicle would be ridiculous. Zeon’s task (while he impersonates Mike) is simple: He must destroy Earth. Due to circumstances put in place by creator Gods (along with some components of multiverse theory), either Earth or Jora must be obliterated if the other is to survive. Zeon doesn’t really want to annihilate this world of colorful cars and American football, but he must if his own people are to live. So Zeon, along with Mike’s friend Ravi Chandrasekhar, goes about developing technology that makes him very rich. This technology could also result in an end to Earth. Things are complicated further by a dreamlike realm populated by people called Protectors. In the world of the Protectors (which Zeon, as Mike, also traverses), humans from Earth battle warriors from Jora. Who will emerge victorious? Hofsetz delivers an intricate setup for a complex story. But despite Gods, Protectors, Messengers (who explain all), and the rules of different worlds, everything boils down to kill or be killed for Zeon. Later chapters incorporate odd twists and action scenes full of explosions and military maneuvers, yet the energetic tale is at its most memorable when focusing on Zeon. He always maintains a sense of humor. This is the case when he reflects that “Earth has some crazy people, and they’re good at their craziness.” He is altogether likable and self-effacing despite the fact that he has been sent to terminate everyone around him. Throughout it all, readers are kept in suspense about how such a struggle will end.    

While convoluted in parts, this impossible-mission tale features an appealing hero.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5092-2432-6

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Wild Rose Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 8, 2019

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of...


Lifelong, conflicted friendship of two women is the premise of Hannah’s maudlin latest (Magic Hour, 2006, etc.), again set in Washington State.

Tallulah “Tully” Hart, father unknown, is the daughter of a hippie, Cloud, who makes only intermittent appearances in her life. Tully takes refuge with the family of her “best friend forever,” Kate Mularkey, who compares herself unfavorably with Tully, in regards to looks and charisma. In college, “TullyandKate” pledge the same sorority and major in communications. Tully has a life goal for them both: They will become network TV anchorwomen. Tully lands an internship at KCPO-TV in Seattle and finagles a producing job for Kate. Kate no longer wishes to follow Tully into broadcasting and is more drawn to fiction writing, but she hesitates to tell her overbearing friend. Meanwhile a love triangle blooms at KCPO: Hard-bitten, irresistibly handsome, former war correspondent Johnny is clearly smitten with Tully. Expecting rejection, Kate keeps her infatuation with Johnny secret. When Tully lands a reporting job with a Today-like show, her career shifts into hyperdrive. Johnny and Kate had started an affair once Tully moved to Manhattan, and when Kate gets pregnant with daughter Marah, they marry. Kate is content as a stay-at-home mom, but frets about being Johnny’s second choice and about her unrealized writing ambitions. Tully becomes Seattle’s answer to Oprah. She hires Johnny, which spells riches for him and Kate. But Kate’s buttons are fully depressed by pitched battles over slutwear and curfews with teenaged Marah, who idolizes her godmother Tully. In an improbable twist, Tully invites Kate and Marah to resolve their differences on her show, only to blindside Kate by accusing her, on live TV, of overprotecting Marah. The BFFs are sundered. Tully’s latest attempt to salvage Cloud fails: The incorrigible, now geriatric hippie absconds once more. Just as Kate develops a spine, she’s given some devastating news. Will the friends reconcile before it’s too late?

Dated sermonizing on career versus motherhood, and conflict driven by characters’ willed helplessness, sap this tale of poignancy.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2008

ISBN: 978-0-312-36408-3

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2007

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