A sci-fi series opener with ADHD as a key component that deserves all the attention it can get.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

THE ANGRIEST ANGEL

A brilliant, reckless troublemaker appears to be the only person immune to the mind-control camouflage of benign aliens dwelling incognito on Earth.

An intro by the author’s psychiatrist explains that Halt (Pillars of Amorum, 2018, etc.) has ADHD and channels that disability into the protagonist of this opener to a sci-fi trilogy. That foreknowledge sets up expectations of a disease-of-the-week TV movie (or something akin to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo vs. the Flying Saucers), which prove happily inaccurate. Caelans are not monstrous space invaders but a human-appearing alien race, both technologically and morally advanced well beyond Homo sapiens. Hidden in elite positions in society, they’ve studied humankind with fascination for more than 50 years. A vital distinction between Caelans and earthlings: the aliens’ mental “psy” powers that they can use for protection and persuasion. This ability has kept the extraterrestrials’ secret—until they meet Chase Madison, an unstable Chicagoan diagnosed with ADHD. Chase has a history of violence but is also smart and fearless when it counts. Avery, a beautiful (but terribly naïve) Caelan scientist, and Nathan, her stolid fiance, try to evaluate Chase’s resistance to psy. An even bigger threat, however, is that Caelans on Earth are falling prey to negative traits—jealousy, thirst for power, and especially anger—that their species seemingly overcame eons ago. The Caelan “Regulus,” or leader (the author cleverly substitutes high-minded Latin for a purely invented alien language), having lost his wife, has literally gone mad with grief and is planning the unthinkable. The author’s premise may remind genre readers of Zenna Henderson’s humanistic The People stories. Halt sets up rich, emotional character minefields and conflicts without letting his antihero’s pathology take the focus off the bigger picture. Much remains unresolved at the end (only the beginning of this saga). But readers of international sci-fi who revere (deservedly) the Arkady and Boris Strugatsky classic Hard to Be a God will want to check out Halt’s thoughtful take on what can go wrong when incredible and supremely ethical outsiders try to blend in with the coarse natives. If Chase is a protagonist as volatile as Randle Patrick McMurphy, Halt’s prose stylings throughout are steady, sober, and finely honed, refraining from dropping Hollywood FX whammies in a manner more befitting Cylons than Caelans.

A sci-fi series opener with ADHD as a key component that deserves all the attention it can get.

Pub Date: Sept. 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72624-158-8

Page Count: 443

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more