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Game Over

From the A Series of Ends series , Vol. 1

Lots of sci-fi twists and turns, some more believable than others, lead to a galvanizing finish.

The latest novel by Edgington (Immortal, 2016) features a rogue artificial intelligence and a virtual reality world holding 12 billion trapped souls.

In a bid for immortality, humanity creates a virtual reality world called Elisium and downloads billions of people into it as digitized versions of themselves. Elisium is managed by an AI called Sibyl, who has been given complete control by the human programmers. Unfortunately, as Elysium’s population grows and power consumption spikes, Sibyl begins redefining what she considers acceptable and reconditioning or deleting people who don’t meet that standard. Ekko Everlasting is downloaded into Elisium, his memory wiped to avoid being flagged a dissident, with the task of tracking down the real-world location of Sibyl’s computer core so that she can be killed or reprogrammed. Ekko enters the No-Life tournament, a competition in which failure results in the actual death of the losers, so that he can get close to Elisium’s elite. After a few initial wins, he qualifies to enroll in The Test—the biggest and most mysterious tournament Elisium has ever seen. Along the way, he meets fellow player Sylirin Yukionna and becomes determined to save her, despite the risks. The story is sprinkled with decision points in the style of the Choose Your Own Adventure series, in which the reader can select which action Ekko takes. Unfortunately, this mechanism doesn’t work very well in an e-book, where it’s more difficult to flip around to different sections, which is probably why Edgington uses a very limited version in which the wrong decision leads to instant death. The plot seems a bit contrived (is it really plausible that the humans don’t know the location of a computer holding 12 billion people?), but the persistent reader will be rewarded with a terrific surprise ending.

Lots of sci-fi twists and turns, some more believable than others, lead to a galvanizing finish.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9976733-2-6

Page Count: 286

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 21, 2016

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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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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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