A gangbusters beginning, but the ending doesn’t satisfy.


From the Between Two Evils series , Vol. 1

To save the world, a woman must go back in time to guarantee a relationship’s success in this first sci-fi novel in a series.

Perhaps because she’s leaving the “bloodbath” of her fresh divorce settlement, Isabel “Iz” Sanborn, an award-winning geneticist, doesn’t recognize Diego Nadales at first when she runs into him in downtown Denver. The former co-workers and one-time couple haven’t seen each other for some 15 years, since their bad breakup. Diego, a software writer, has particular reason to feel betrayed; he wasn’t cheating on Iz, as she suspected, when he kept a promise to visit a female friend, but Iz retaliated by actually cheating on him—and then telling his boss, falsely, that Diego had harassed her. But their chemistry sparks again, nonetheless. Soon they plan to marry and move into a mountain cabin. Tragedies personal and worldwide unfold, including a rash of fires, after a mysterious metal sphere appears in Denver, emblazoned with Einstein’s relativity equation. Soon, Iz and Diego are separated during the chaos as scientists in a secret underground city study the sphere’s contents, which include instructions for a time machine. Investigation shows that there’s only one way to prevent an end to all mammalian life: Iz must sacrifice her own life in this timeline to go back in time to 19-year-old Diego and teach him how to make their relationship work—so that they’re happily married for 20 years. In early chapters, Orton (Dead Time, 2017, etc.) draws readers in with strong writing including moments of humor, compelling themes, and even a heartwarming romantic gesture that depends on the kindness of a band of looters. Iz shows admirable resourcefulness, and an irreverent physics professor, Matt Hudson, also provides an entertaining first-person point of view. However, the couples counseling that ends the book is irritating more than romantic. Iz is demanding and critical, Diego doesn’t want to be molded, and above all, Orton isn’t persuasive about why everything depends on their romance being successful, out of all the couples in the universe. Perhaps that, and some other loose ends, will become clearer in later installments.

A gangbusters beginning, but the ending doesn’t satisfy.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-941368-02-2

Page Count: 374

Publisher: Rocky Mountain Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 4, 2019

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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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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