The future Big Split between the Northern and Southern United States leads to religious demagogy and the right-wing political delirium that provides the backdrop for Dumanis’ novel.
Never really wanted by her mother and sexually abused by her father, Mona Liebowitz wants to create an art project that spans the nation, a futile dream in the New American Republic, where art has been decried as a distraction from God and subsequently banned. Painting lands Mona in juvenile hall. In an attempt to assert herself, she composes a mural under the cover of night and gets locked in solitary confinement. While imprisoned, she is granted a wish by a magical “wee person” who ends the conversation by shooting off into oblivion. Then things get weird. Through plot-driven mayhem, Mona finds herself on the lam, disfigured and starting a religion before she meets her ultimate fate. Throughout the book, Dumanis’ strong satirical voice blasts the hypocrisy of those who don’t practice what they preach. Evil deeds, such as Mona being locked in boxlike confines and later being assaulted, all occur at the hands of the self-assured authoritarians, while images of Jesus look on. If the plot and dialogue weren’t enough to grasp the author’s intentions, there are the lists and lists of hybridized nouns: Girl Scouts have become God Scouts. An amusement park is called Godland (complete with David and Goliath fights on the hour and a ride named The Slide to Hell). Then you’ve got your Freedom objects: Freedom Net, Freedom Phone and the satisfyingly oxymoronic Freedom Locks. Although the author’s points are made clearly, they lack the subtle delivery that could send the reader on an actual journey. Instead, hyperbole and breakneck pace reign while the plot vacillates from amusing to sickening and then abruptly ends.
In this dark and bizarre satire, Dumanis proposes a world in which hyperreligious fervor shields and empowers the truly demented while destroying individualism and artistic expression.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.