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A true original, like an epic of Chinese history retold with Tolkien-esque grandeur and yet wholly unique: a masterpiece.

Not only is there apparently a “father of science fiction” among Taiwanese writers, but the man himself (a professor at the Univ. of Pittsburgh) is nothing short of awe-inspiring. Chang’s trilogy, in English translation for the first time, is set on the world of HuHui, some ridiculous number of years in the future, and is mostly centered on the sprawling metropolis of Sunlon City. Suffused with bad luck since its early history—when human explorers apparently settled the planet—the city has suffered an ungodly amount of tragedy, which continues in the first volume, “Five Jade Disks.” An interstellar empire, the Shan, have conquered the planet, but a rebellion is fomenting. “Defenders of the Dragon City” sets in motion the bloody infighting that could ultimately doom the HuHui people, while “Tale of a Feather” unveils more of the planet’s tragic, ghostly past. The cast of characters is huge, from the battling Green Snake and Leopard brotherhoods (who not unintentionally resemble the warring cults of premodern China) to the imperious but strangely sympathetic Shan, suspicious cult members, and the mysterious, semihuman “native” HuHui Serpent and Leopard peoples, who figure quite dramatically in the trilogy’s frequent battles. Chang’s tone is pitch-perfect from the start, sketching out the mythic outlines of HuHui’s history with magisterial grace while later delivering an action-filled epic that toys with the truly philosophical and all the while infuses the text with a loopy humor. In one instance, a seemingly innocuous conversation about the early bird getting the worm becomes a thorny, surreally logical debate about whether the worm should accept its fate or just get up earlier than the bird.

A true original, like an epic of Chinese history retold with Tolkien-esque grandeur and yet wholly unique: a masterpiece.

Pub Date: May 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-231-12852-5

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Columbia Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2003

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Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

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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