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

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The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with...


Talk-show queen takes tumble as millions jeer.

Nora Bridges is a wildly popular radio spokesperson for family-first virtues, but her loyal listeners don't know that she walked out on her husband and teenaged daughters years ago and didn't look back. Now that a former lover has sold racy pix of naked Nora and horny himself to a national tabloid, her estranged daughter Ruby, an unsuccessful stand-up comic in Los Angeles, has been approached to pen a tell-all. Greedy for the fat fee she's been promised, Ruby agrees and heads for the San Juan Islands, eager to get reacquainted with the mom she plans to betray. Once in the family homestead, nasty Ruby alternately sulks and glares at her mother, who is temporarily wheelchair-bound as a result of a post-scandal car crash. Uncaring, Ruby begins writing her side of the story when she's not strolling on the beach with former sweetheart Dean Sloan, the son of wealthy socialites who basically ignored him and his gay brother Eric. Eric, now dying of cancer and also in a wheelchair, has returned to the island. This dismal threesome catch up on old times, recalling their childhood idylls on the island. After Ruby's perfect big sister Caroline shows up, there's another round of heartfelt talk. Nora gradually reveals the truth about her unloving husband and her late father's alcoholism, which led her to seek the approval of others at the cost of her own peace of mind. And so on. Ruby is aghast to discover that she doesn't know everything after all, but Dean offers her subdued comfort. Happy endings await almost everyone—except for readers of this nobly preachy snifflefest.

The best-selling author of tearjerkers like Angel Falls (2000) serves up yet another mountain of mush, topped off with syrupy platitudes about life and love.

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-609-60737-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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

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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

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