Christian cyberpunk sci-fi—quite a start.


In a corporate-controlled future from which religion has been purged, inventor Troy Vincent is condemned to a virtual-reality punishment (and likely execution) over accusations that he murdered a business rival.

Farrar’s debut novel kicks off his Christian-oriented sci-fi series taking place in a 22nd-century world where, governments and political parties having failed, giant corporations control (i.e., “sponsor”) a society battered by global warming and unrest. As a result, religion has largely been suppressed—its existence is bad for business, evidently; this is not a sentiment one expects in the American evangelical realm—and criminal justice is downsized to a kind of twist on the medieval notion of trial by ordeal. The accused are placed into virtual-reality pods, where they are assailed by “demons” of their own making—bad conscience for the guilty, regret for the innocent. Demons create manifestations that effectively kill their humans, both in cyberspace and reality. Inventor Troy Vincent is condemned to a Virtual Reality Chamber on trumped-up charges he murdered Hoy SamWong, a ruthless tycoon who caused Troy’s father’s death and stole Troy’s company and his wife. Paradoxically, the beautiful Lovena Baptista, daughter of another of Hoy SamWong’s ex-partners, is also being tormented in a VRC for the identical crime. The duo’s potential savior (besides, of course, the Savior) is Vincent—a shape-shifting android devised by Troy’s father with Vincent family DNA—who is kept around by the heartless corporations as a sort of attending executioner (for some reason, the bad guys don’t anticipate this becoming a problem). Spock-like Vincent, with a crusader’s cross emblazoned on his breastplate, is a most intriguing blend of old and new. Less successful are the title entities, Grief Masters, helpful VR visitors who bear names such as Courage and Faith and appear to the embattled Troy and Lovena during their cliffhanger perils in fantasy digital environments. Are they angels? Saints? Their literalist intercessions take the narrative from cyberpunk to The Shack, although Farrar maintains a brisk and fairly exciting (holy) roller-coaster momentum throughout.

Christian cyberpunk sci-fi—quite a start.

Pub Date: June 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1458214447

Page Count: 276

Publisher: AbbottPress

Review Posted Online: Oct. 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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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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