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THE FIFTH

INDOCTRINATED CITY

A remarkable tale of the frightening consequences of hatred and discrimination.

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Citizens rebel against a British dictatorship and military forces that incarcerate people with dark skin in this dystopian novel.

Nearly a decade ago, Jack and Jenny Brackstone’s father left his family to avoid being sent to a prison camp simply because he was Iranian. As their mother is a government official, the siblings are relatively safe. But once the prime minister disbands Parliament, they must evade armed Patrol officers. While fleeing, Jack and Jenny split up. She winds up in the tunnels underneath York and surprisingly reunites with her father, who’s now part of The Fifth, a resistance group. The Fifth trains members in martial arts and weapons to combat the Booted Troops marching above them. Jack and his mother, meanwhile, take refuge with the British Liberation Army in Scotland. As Jenny tries harnessing her mental and physical strength to prove herself, Jack, as a BLA cadet, endures bullies. Although both The Fifth and the BLA are anti-government, their alliance isn’t exactly stable since not everyone is trustworthy. A battle between the rebels and soldiers seems unavoidable, and the Brackstones will have to fight to bring their family back together. Sykes delivers a distinctive but understated social novel. For example, he largely implies the racial-fueled hostility behind the prison camps. Similarly, there are few profanities and no lingering on the violence during the tale’s periodic action sequences. Still, certain scenes are potent. The Fifth raids a government-sponsored lab that cruelly experiments on gorillas, and a particularly distraught character resorts to self-mutilation. While the author’s pithy writing keeps the story moving, Sykes truly excels at unexpected turns regarding both the plot and cast. Some characters, for example, aren’t as amiable as they seem, and more than one death is genuinely shocking. This book, even with its stark ending, could either be a stand-alone or a series opener.

A remarkable tale of the frightening consequences of hatred and discrimination.

Pub Date: June 23, 2021

ISBN: 979-8-72-340973-6

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: May 28, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

THE WOMEN

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

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  • 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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

IT STARTS WITH US

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

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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

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