A high-octane, comic book–style adventure.


Germann’s debut sci-fi tale of a crusader (sans cape) who saves the city from an ultraviolent, drug-fueled crime wave blends cutting-edge biotechnology with plot points ripped straight from the headlines.

Germann’s novel draws deeply on the author’s background in technology and corporate culture, setting a suitably dark tone in a deadpan prologue reminiscent of the pseudo-anthropological conclusion of Atwood’s dystopian classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. He briefly summarizes the development of micro-engineering and the role it played during the “the early 21st century” when the crime rate in the Los Angeles basin mysteriously dropped. Set mostly in The Orchard—the gangland battlefield of a decaying neighborhood surrounding Mercy Hospital—the story unfurls as near Matrix-like action scenes slowly reveal the backstory of “the stranger,” a mysterious crime fighter with superhuman abilities; think Batman with nifty nanotech gear and an enviable Fortune 500 portfolio. These sequences blend with sweetly romantic interludes featuring whiz-kid Darren Kiel and his bewildered beloved, ER nurse Corrine Daniels. When not saving little old ladies from muggers and kicking gangland butt, Darren is busy minting money at his biotech development firm with his partner, Adam, or visiting his corrupt father in prison. That’s how it all begins for future action-adventure hero Darren: Pop’s example of how not to be a good citizen is, it seems, what inspired the rich genius to fight the good fight. The book is understandably comic-bookish in its portentous style, although the author slyly undercuts the prose with self-aware, dry humor and offbeat social commentary. The novel may be a tad overlong, but the author’s skillful manipulations of such a familiar formula make this novel imminently readable. Even the obligatory conspiracy theory—largely embodied by the shadowy Walter Rocaena—adds to the cartoonish fun. Then the hero moves on to the next hotspot—and likely a sequel.

A high-octane, comic book–style adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985288808

Page Count: 314

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...


Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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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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