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THE GIRL WHO ELECTRIFIED THE WORLD

Amped action and layered characters enhance this commendable second installment.

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Electra Kittner uses her superior intellect to help the president of 22nd-century America combat a virus and terrorists in the continuation of Ratza’s (The Girl with the Lightning Brain, 2018) sci-fi series.

Twenty-one-year-old Electra is the sole survivor of a helicopter crash. As part of a secret operation in the U.S., the helicopter had been transporting individuals with data on the Techno-Plague virus, which triggers rapid onset of dementia. Though the crash severely injures Electra and causes amnesia, she gradually regains her faculties—but she won’t let everyone know how much has come back. Years ago, lightning struck her pregnant mother, giving Electra her name and “lightning brain” (superior intelligence and strength as well as T-Plague immunity), and she’s long suppressed her skills for fear of others’ unfavorable response. When the Guardian Party overthrows the current administration, Jared Gardner is the new U.S. President. Electra, whose leaks on T-Plague projects at the National Institutes of Health (where she was employed) helped secure Jared’s current position, becomes his covert adviser and speechwriter. This affords her some control to find a T-Plague vaccine and thwart terrorists intent on deploying the virus as a weapon. Meanwhile, physical assaults from terrorists unleash her “Monster”—her often brutal retaliation. Ratza’s follow-up is an improvement over the series’ first now that the lead is evolving. For example, Electra struggles to feel empathy, which adds vulnerability to a character with seemingly indestructible brainpower and strength. She also learns more about her late parents courtesy of relatives she meets for the first time. Despite copious discussions on the T-Plague or terrorist activities, the story has a steady pace and frequently showcases Electra’s physical aptitude (“She sidestepped the thrust, using his arm for leverage and swinging him three hundred and sixty degrees, then throwing him down the stairs”). The ending offers resolution for at least one subplot and a fantastic cliffhanger that will leave readers yearning for the next book.

Amped action and layered characters enhance this commendable second installment.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 2018

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 428

Publisher: Stonewall Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 15, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2018

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KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON

THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

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Greed, depravity, and serial murder in 1920s Oklahoma.

During that time, enrolled members of the Osage Indian nation were among the wealthiest people per capita in the world. The rich oil fields beneath their reservation brought millions of dollars into the tribe annually, distributed to tribal members holding "headrights" that could not be bought or sold but only inherited. This vast wealth attracted the attention of unscrupulous whites who found ways to divert it to themselves by marrying Osage women or by having Osage declared legally incompetent so the whites could fleece them through the administration of their estates. For some, however, these deceptive tactics were not enough, and a plague of violent death—by shooting, poison, orchestrated automobile accident, and bombing—began to decimate the Osage in what they came to call the "Reign of Terror." Corrupt and incompetent law enforcement and judicial systems ensured that the perpetrators were never found or punished until the young J. Edgar Hoover saw cracking these cases as a means of burnishing the reputation of the newly professionalized FBI. Bestselling New Yorker staff writer Grann (The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession, 2010, etc.) follows Special Agent Tom White and his assistants as they track the killers of one extended Osage family through a closed local culture of greed, bigotry, and lies in pursuit of protection for the survivors and justice for the dead. But he doesn't stop there; relying almost entirely on primary and unpublished sources, the author goes on to expose a web of conspiracy and corruption that extended far wider than even the FBI ever suspected. This page-turner surges forward with the pacing of a true-crime thriller, elevated by Grann's crisp and evocative prose and enhanced by dozens of period photographs.

Dogged original research and superb narrative skills come together in this gripping account of pitiless evil.

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-385-53424-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017

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NIGHT

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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