An engrossing SF tale that aptly solidifies a dense saga.


From the Scion Saga series , Vol. 2

Teenagers with supernatural abilities band together in the face of threats in this second installment of a series.

Sixteen-year-old Adam Rozovsky is one of the Descendants, who boast paranormal abilities. Adam can control wind while his girlfriend, Carly Wit, manipulates fire. Unfortunately, the Iksha, a group of scientists seemingly intent on “harnessing” the Descendants’ traits, have been experimenting on and sometimes killing them. Adam, Carly, and other Descendants are currently hiding in the city of Piure. Sorceress Ksenyia Levkin tries to protect everyone by hexing the entire city to prevent enemies from entering. In some ways, the Descendants are quintessential teens, attending high school and eagerly anticipating the prom. But they must remain on guard, particularly after it’s apparent that a traitor among them is feeding information to the Iksha and, later, that a spy has somehow made it inside Piure. But perhaps most unnerving are the changes Carly notices in Adam. He exhibits unusual behavior that he subsequently forgets, leading Carly to speculate that his personality has split. Looking for a solution to her boyfriend’s condition, Carly stumbles on a shocking discovery that may mean the Descendants’ shielded city is not the safe haven they believe it to be. This SF sequel picks up right after the series opener, with a thoroughly established plot and myriad characters. Readers unfamiliar with the first volume may initially be confused, but Leigh-Reign’s (Opaque, 2016) crisp dialogue is simultaneously entertaining and brimming with details. Despite the Descendants’ powers and a blatant comparison to Marvel’s X-Men, the story offers minimal action, as the teens’ abilities are primarily on display during a tournament. Nevertheless, characters’ many interactions spark searing melodrama as well as suspense. There’s a lingering distrust, for example, with the presence of a potential mole while an eventual betrayal threatens more than one relationship. Moreover, the author adds a twist before the halfway point and another during the final act, which unquestionably sets up Book 3.

An engrossing SF tale that aptly solidifies a dense saga.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9979239-1-9

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Cayelle Publishing/Surge

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.


Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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