An original, surprising novel for mainstream sci-fi fans.



A subtle spiritual allegory cloaked in the guise of a sci-fi thriller.

In the year 2250, Maj. Frank Rawdon is a special agent for the United States Space Command Intelligence Service on a top-secret mission to investigate allegations that Germany is committing Solar Exodus Treaty violations. These laws essentially require all governments and corporations to make public any research into the advancement of space travel. Rawdon, a virtually unstoppable combat expert, has a penchant for finding trouble, and after he’s arrested for murder on Venus, he escapes in the hold of a spaceship full of hundreds of massive, extended stasis carriers. They contain Turgor soldiers—giant, bioengineered human killing machines that have been classified as weapons by the United States military. Rawdon wonders where these soldiers are being sent, and why, so he stows away inside the ship until it reaches Mercury, a planet that supposedly hasn’t been visited by anyone in seven years. Once there, he discovers a technological conspiracy of the highest order, but that’s just the beginning of the mind-blowing revelations: He also finds out about humankind’s military partnership with a tree-trunk–like alien race known as the Arbortruncae, who are involved in an intensifying conflict. The more Rawdon, a nonbeliever who doesn’t put stock in any afterlife (“There’s just one big dirt nap when we’re all done, and that’s it”), learns about the universe and its sentient beings, the more he questions his own beliefs. He soon realizes that he has no idea whether humankind’s actions are heroic or the vilest kind of evil. This is an impressive debut novel that effectively fuses the hard-core sci-fi and military-thriller genres. Although most of the human characters are relatively two-dimensional, the author savvily incorporates an abundance of intriguing ideas into the storyline to make up for it; for example, a key element of the tale involves a means of almost-instantaneous space travel—one that essentially breaks space. The complex back story of the aliens’ conflict, meanwhile, involves one race’s “search for a gateway to God” and mythology that strangely parallels biblical myths involving Nephilim and spiritual transcendence. The resulting themes, both science- and faith-based, make the novel a powerful and undeniably thought-provoking read. At the same time, it provides edge-of-your-seat, action-packed thrills throughout.

An original, surprising novel for mainstream sci-fi fans.

Pub Date: Oct. 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1460246849

Page Count: 352

Publisher: FriesenPress

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller


Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

Did you like this book?