Exuberant and entertaining, slyly avoiding camp with plausible, albeit superpower-infused, characters.

THE FORGOTTEN FEDERATION

A scientist assembles a second-generation group of superheroes to battle a global government bent on dominating humanity in Fiction Factory Incorporated’s debut sci-fi tale.

Dr. Andre Hudson’s ashamed of the work he’s done for President Ophelia Keating. After orchestrating the merging of world governments into one, known as Parliament, Keating instigated a way to regulate birthrate via the Human Reproductive Vector, which Hudson helped develop. HRV-EST (appropriately pronounced “harvest”) essentially peddles embryos, favoring the wealthy with perfect, genetically engineered children. Now a professor at Harland University, Hudson takes pride in his part of the Federation, superheroes who protected humans from alien ruler Goliaric of planet Xenoe, thwarting his plan to rule Earth. Hudson’s the only one left, and the only one without powers, but he sees hope in a TV report on teen Ellen Braxton, who allegedly killed someone using electricity she generated. Others crop up, like speedster Damian Gunner, with superpowers very similar to the original Federation members. Keating notices them too, and to be on the safe side, she sends twins Snitch and Scoundrel, Xenozians thought to have evacuated Earth long ago, to kill Ellen and the rest. The president fears new superheroes will put a damper on her devious plot, which is to avoid any uprising from citizens by, quite simply, eradicating the poor ones. Like all good superhero yarns, the author’s novel first lays the groundwork with a convincing plot and characters. Ellen, for one, is tormented by her mother’s sleazy boyfriend, Eddie, while the haunted Hudson is shrouded in mystery. The story has fun with genre fans’ expectations: David Porter’s power is initially unknown, and one character suggests fresh superhero names (rather than adopting old ones) and costume redesigns. Dialogue does tend to be interchangeable: nearly everyone says “dude” at some point, and even reptilian alien Snitch throws in an “awesome.” But the exhilarating adventure rarely falters: powers on display, beaucoup showdowns with formidable baddies, and an ending that promises further adventures for its superheroes—and maybe a few more villains.

Exuberant and entertaining, slyly avoiding camp with plausible, albeit superpower-infused, characters.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5351-7178-6

Page Count: 360

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 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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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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