A commendable sci-fi series launch spearheaded by a remarkable heroine.

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APPARENT POWER

From the Diazem Trilogy series , Vol. 1

In this debut novel, a new world power targets a woman with rare abilities.

Denver emergency room nurse Valerie Russell is shocked by her appearance one morning: The 35-year-old now looks 20. With no time to ponder the phenomenon, she leaves for a 12-hour shift at a facility two hours away. Upon her arrival, her car suddenly dies and Valerie passes out. After regaining consciousness, she guides others, who have passed out as well, to the facility. According to reports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims an electric surge has affected people globally and wants to see those who have lost consciousness for “observation.” But Valerie’s greatest concern is her 2-year-old son, Caleb, back at home with the nanny (Valerie’s husband, Scott, is at work). Meanwhile, her father, Mike Burton, has answers to what’s transpiring. Some people have a no-longer-dormant gene that allows them to absorb electricity. Valerie belongs to a more elite group with powers capable of much more. While she races to find Caleb and Scott, formidable individuals, having anticipated the gene’s awakening, want her for her abilities. Their purpose is sinister: mass genocide of those not carrying the gene. In this first installment of a sci-fi trilogy, the plot’s extraordinary event is worldwide, but Arnold wisely concentrates on Valerie in the U.S. There are hints of others who share her gifts, which open avenues for the series to explore later. Valerie is an exceptional protagonist: She has survivalist skills (courtesy of Mike) and shrewdly distrusts people, including reputed friends of her father. The story’s villain is likewise sharply defined. The CDC initially appears nefarious before one individual becomes the unmitigated baddie. Though the author’s near-breakneck pace is exhilarating, it doesn’t leave much room for standout supporting characters, like Valerie’s resilient female ally Hyka Major. But that’s something the forthcoming volumes could easily rectify—and something for readers to look forward to.

A commendable sci-fi series launch spearheaded by a remarkable heroine.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-73246-740-8

Page Count: 234

Publisher: Immortal Works LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 20, 2018

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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