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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


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

Did you like this book?


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?