Well-constructed, action-flooded sci-fi set in a realistic historical world.

DONS OF TIME

A fast-paced sci-fi thriller featuring time travel to Victorian England.

Guma’s (Spirits of Desire, 2004) latest novel stars Tonio Wolfe, who discovers that his company, TELPORT, can use “Remote Viewing” to open wormholes to the past. After his co-workers Danny and Angel let him use the technology to search for Jack the Ripper, Tonio travels to Victorian England and tracks the killer while falling in love with radical leader Annie Besant. Meanwhile, Tonio tries to keep the knowledge of Remote Viewing from his father, ruthless Serbian mob boss Shelley, who owns and wants to exploit TELPORT for commercial use. The novel tracks the growth of Tonio’s political consciousness, from apathetic Mafia scion to committed opponent of institutional injustice, thanks to the influence of Annie and Tonio’s college friend Harry, a member of Occupy Wall Street. The scenes in Victorian England have an impressive amount of historical detail and include conversations among historical figures such as the playwright George Bernard Shaw and populist leader Ignatius Donnelly. Many of the novel’s subplots knit together, with Tonio’s quest to discover the true identity of Jack the Ripper mirroring his relationship with his father and his discovery of repressed memories from childhood. While the novel raises questions about government surveillance, it disappointingly doesn’t follow up on the implications, with the government acting as a sort of deus ex machina to help Tonio. Still, fans of historical fiction and sci-fi should enjoy this novel. It’s not deep, but it’s well-researched and entertaining, and even readers familiar with the Victorian era will learn about some interesting characters along the way.

Well-constructed, action-flooded sci-fi set in a realistic historical world.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2013

ISBN: 978-1937677510

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Fomite

Review Posted Online: Sept. 27, 2013

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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