This is a rollicking adventure with religious, philosophical, and technological overtones; for science fiction die-hards.

The Dark

WE ALL HAVE OUR DEMONS

When a dimension-hopping spacecraft ventures beyond the boundaries of the universe, literally ending up nowhere, strange and disturbing events play havoc with it.

Carr (Messages, 2013, etc.) has a real talent for constructing living, breathing characters: Cermeno, a Queeg-like captain with a questionable past who, through nepotism, has bumped De Vegas, a more competent officer, to second-in-command; Jervis, a womanizing reporter; Teal, a drunken priest; and Nunn, a disfigured loner. Add to this a pedophile and a crew with a surfeit of jealousies, gripes, and motives; toss them all aboard untested space-faring technology heading off into the unknown and….What could go wrong? After a tantalizing, action-filled prologue, Carr takes time to establish these volatile characters. He cleverly uses a mission press conference to quickly introduce the cast before sending them on their way. The craft, aptly named the Santa Maria, makes use of a new technology harnessing the science behind supernatural phenomenon such as a poltergeist, which are caused by dimensional glitches. It works flawlessly on the way. Once the ship leaves the universe for a perfect vacuum, however, all hell breaks loose. In a quantum nothingness where anything can happen, everything does, from personal demons come to life to interdimensional kidnappings. As systems fail, the crew dwindles, and survivors must overcome one impossibility after another. Part sci-fi, part psychological drama, part zombie apocalypse, the thrillfest starts early and continues till the end. The author slowly showcases his cast, lighting them from different angles. Nunn is first given her own extended scene interacting with her cat and Wilson, the computer she designed. But Carr can also sum up a character like Cermeno in a few brush strokes: “his slightly self-deprecating humor—a tactic with which he was not totally comfortable but that his consultants assured him would be good for his image.”

This is a rollicking adventure with religious, philosophical, and technological overtones; for science fiction die-hards.

Pub Date: May 30, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-43602-8

Page Count: 300

Publisher: Premonition Media

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2015

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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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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