A Christian-leaning, trippy sci-fi tale about multidimensional travel.

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ABSOLUTE CHOICE

From the The Infinity Trilogy series , Vol. 1

When he invents a gateway to metaphysical alternative universes, a scientist discovers romance, cosmic danger, and a chance to rewrite history for truth and justice.

Former professor Arthur “Art” Goldstein has been crestfallen ever since his wife and son fell victim to a next-door neighbor (and vicious serial killer)—a landscaper whose lawyers got him off the hook. Art is working in his lab on an “anti-gravity propulsion” unit when he materializes a sort of floating cylinder. Once enlarged to accommodate a person, it is a doorway to and from “Eternal Reality,” an alternate dimension in which Art moves unseen throughout the world and, using time travel and meditation, orchestrates changes on a God-like (or angelic) level. Moreover, if he takes his invention inside that dimension and passes through it, he attains access to further invisible realms. During these experiments, Art’s family grief and loneliness bring into being a little daughter he actually never had, named Kanna. Meanwhile, he recruits—and falls in love with—Gem Davidson, a divorced fellow scientist who becomes his partner in more ways than one, as the couple brings that pesky serial killer to justice. The two also learn (thanks to an Obi-Wan-type mentor and visitor from beyond named Methuselah) that underneath further layers of reality, entire menageries of Book of Revelation creatures, aliens, and banished spiritual beings coexist with humanity, preying on Earthlings in the manner of the robots in The Matrix. The genesis of an Infinity Trilogy, this faith-based, sci-fi fantasy displays ambitions very nearly the size of C.S. Lewis’ theological time-space adventures. And Ingersoll (Patti Cake, 2016) injects a surprising late development involving a main character into the plot. But the elaborate tale also delivers clunky, vernacular prose; a lumpy pace; and characters who tend to be one-dimensional (even while moving through multiple dimensions). At the end of the novel, all hell breaks loose, literally, pointing sequel-ward. At least the demonic landscaper dilemma is resolved. Or as weak cop-talk dialogue puts it: “This is one serial killer who will never kill again.”   

A Christian-leaning, trippy sci-fi tale about multidimensional travel.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2016

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 217

Publisher: iUniverse

Review Posted Online: Feb. 1, 2017

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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