A solid second entry, with more on the way.

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Zaphram, The Hidden Jewel

From the Hidden12Saga series , Vol. 2

A highly intelligent woman with superhuman powers and extensive combat training is kidnapped in order to help a team of terrorists find the world’s greatest treasure in the sequel to Hidden 12, Intelligence Required (2014).

Haven, considered a Cell 12, hits the ground running. She wakes up sensing she’s about to be kidnapped, then runs from terrorists with her family and protector. Once she loses her telepathic vision, she uses her “red heat vision” to see there is no hope. To ensure her family’s safety, she allows herself to be kidnapped. Haven is taken by Habib, a man she previously helped escape from jail, but he now has implanted a bomb inside of her and stolen one of her eggs for artificial insemination. He needs Haven’s help—and her family’s—to fulfill the prophecy that his family will be rich beyond their wildest dreams. More action ensues when Haven’s parents, Ben and Kristyn—both Cell 11—come to her aid with members of the Sector army. The group travels to India to translate the stones of the prophecy and, following the stones’ guidance, ends up in Alaska. More supernatural characters are introduced to either help or hinder Haven and Habib’s quest. During all this, Haven maintains her devotion to family, though she can’t decide from among three men which she loves. Reading Hidden 12 is more or less a prerequisite because no explanation is given as to who or what some of the characters are and how they came to be. “They want me to be a nanny for their GEMS babies,” Haven’s nanny says in an opening scene with no further explanation of GEMS. The structure of the militaristic government, reasons why relationships are forbidden, and what exactly a “cell” is are also never fully detailed. The sometimes-confusing jumps between first-person narrations also make reading difficult. Still, Haven’s wild ride is a fast, entertaining read with plenty of ingenious weaponry, heart-pounding chases, and fantastical imagery that all leave the door open for the third installment.

A solid second entry, with more on the way. 

Pub Date: July 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-692-48813-3

Page Count: 364

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2015

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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THE GLASS HOTEL

A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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