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THE STUFF OF STARS

From the The Seekers series , Vol. 2

A grand, revelatory saga that continues to unfold.

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In this YA sci-fi sequel, Litwack (The Light of Reason, 2016, etc.) pushes his characters into new physical, mental, and emotional realms as they encounter an unusual, tech-based society.

A thousand years ago, society crumbled into the Darkness. Now, the Temple of Light and its vicars guide the survivors with a stern hand, wielding miracles with dimly understood technology from a secret cache called the keep. Orah and her husband, Nathaniel, have washed ashore in a strange land after sailing from the village of Little Pond. They hope to locate the creators of the keep’s wonders, but instead, they’re greeted by children. Kara, the oldest, is merely 16, and she takes the couple to a decrepit village that’s repaired haphazardly by robots. It also contains devices that can generate a cooked meal from nothing—in seconds. It’s all presided over by the mentor, an elderly man who controls his wheelchair with his mind. He says that the village is full of children and failing machines because the dreamers—the adults who maintained the technology—left three years ago. They “ascended” into a mountain fortress, and everyone in the village hopes for their return. To understand the mentor’s tale better, Orah and Nathaniel visit with “the people of the earth,” who live off the land nearby. Their leaders, Annabel and Caleb, are committed to living without machines and claim that the dreamers’ hope is a dangerous one. In this second volume of The Seekers series, Litwack continues his enthralling tour of a future crippled by hubris and spiritual negligence. Readers will find it heartbreaking when the village children play with inert black devices—smartphones—that used to “let us speak to each other from far away and showed us the way if we were lost.” Throughout, the author explores the area between a soulful grounding in the physical world and the scholarly itch that makes one ask, “Why would we be given a universe so vast and wonderful unless our minds were meant to grow to encompass it all?” The astonishing truth about the dreamers is revealed in careful, dramatic stages. The protagonists’ courage—and Litwack’s magisterial plotting—will spur readers on to the next installment.

A grand, revelatory saga that continues to unfold.

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62253-436-4

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Evolved Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

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