An imaginative, free-wheeling SF adventure with a strong focus on family.

EVOLUTION

NEW HUMAN ABILITIES

Four girls and their running coach develop supernatural powers in this debut novel.

Middle-school girls Cassie, Bridget, and Jillian and junior high student Nicole are known as the Blugees, named after the blue markers on one of their running trails. Their coach—Bridget and Nicole’s father; Jillian’s uncle—is just called Dad. When out running one day, Dad and the Blugees come across a mysterious blue tree that engulfs them in blue pollen. From this moment on, all the girls manifest superpowers: Jillian can manipulate time; Cassie has extraordinary speed; Bridget’s thinking skills are greatly enhanced; and Nicole can fly. At first, the girls simply enjoy their new abilities. But then their future selves send them a warning: A superhuman named Kirk has come back in time to kill the Blugees and change history. As the girls grow up, they must increase their powers further and defeat Kirk. But even if they are successful, new challenges will await. A radioactive meteor is heading for Earth and if unchecked will wipe out all life. Can Dad and the Blugees save the world? In this SF series opener, Morse writes in the first person, narrating from Dad’s perspective in an unsettling mix of past and present tense (often within paragraphs). This stylistic quirk aside, the prose and dialogue are straightforward and the story simply told. The plot itself, though a wonderfully tangled potpourri of time paradoxes and superpower problems and solutions, is navigated calmly. One of the strengths of the story is that it unfolds across many years, allowing readers to follow the Blugees’ growth—collectively and as individuals—from girls to young women to parents. Dad remains an affectionate elder statesman, maturing into a grandfather, and the Blugees’ children are all the more relatable for being the offspring of established characters. While the tale’s pacing seems leisurely at times, several of the plot crises return in unexpected ways, adding to the sense of peril. Readers of all ages should enjoy the ride.

An imaginative, free-wheeling SF adventure with a strong focus on family.

Pub Date: March 16, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-69362-861-0

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Dec. 20, 2019

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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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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