Capably written, consistently thrilling science fiction.

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RD #13

Biological terrorism forms the complex crux of Hiltz’s fast-paced, exhilarating debut.

A grisly opening chapter jumpstarts the action as the shadowy “Moone” and his henchmen survey—and set fire to—a village in southwest China that has been horrifyingly decimated by a flesh-eating disease and terrorized by mutated vermin. One year later, widower and Army veteran George Munson and his beautiful daughter Denny are getting settled in their new San Marino, Fla., home following the violent murder of beloved wife and mother Beth, back in Miami. Their safe, new life isn’t without complications; George’s secret, burgeoning love affair with neighbor Dawn Nichols rocks his already emotionally fragile daughter. His engaging career as a music engineer for an aging Latin pop star takes a back seat when a seemingly overnight influenza outbreak quickly quarantines the city. Returning home from vacation, young friends Jim, Eric, Manny and Manny’s girlfriend Kara are ordered to stay inside. Impatient hero George, however, sneaks out and vigorously interrogates a FEMA operative who reveals the “flu” epidemic is actually a man-made, highly contagious, lethal “genetic retrovirus,” the antidote of which is unavailable to the general public. Knowing they’ve all been infected, George leaves his family in search of the cure. Putting his former Army surveillance experience to good use, he stealthily sneaks onto top-secret military property, stumbles upon a germ warfare lab full of human and animal medical experiments testing, among other variations, the “Red Death #13” microbe, and desperately searches for the antivirus. Meanwhile, the Jim, Eric, Manny and Kara converge with Denny and Dawn in an effort to escape the crazed, bloodthirsty zombies that have seemingly taken over San Marino. Hiltz’s forceful narrative aptly powers George’s race against time as the virus spreads globally and his daughter is kidnapped by evil kingpin Moone in the rousing conclusion. Though scenes involving the four youths have a rushed, underdeveloped quality, Hiltz’s writing ability is promising and his creative imagination sets the stage for further high-tension adventures.

Capably written, consistently thrilling science fiction.

Pub Date: Nov. 18, 2010

ISBN: 978-1456352301

Page Count: 310

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2011

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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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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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