Well-written, sincere and undemanding military sci-fi adventure.

THE DRAGONS OF JUPITER

An entertaining sci-fi action novel with light overtones of dystopian and political thrillers.

In Holo’s debut, set in a future version of our solar system, two brothers find themselves divided by interplanetary war. Kaneda and Ryu Kusanagi are from Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and both are veterans of a past war against a tyrannical artificial intelligence that sought to conquer humanity. In that conflict’s aftermath, they’ve chosen different sides in a new struggle. Kaneda, who hates AIs, fights alongside soldiers called Crusaders as they seek to destroy Matriarch, a “quantum mind” AI who was once human. Ryu, however, is a commando warrior with the Dragons, who fight the Crusaders with stealth and cunning in an effort to protect Matriarch, who guides Europa’s society. Kaneda, however, sees her as a computerized dictator and his old way of life as a lie. The Crusaders pit their powered-armor suits against the Dragons’ enhanced reflexes and invisibility technology. The brothers’ personal conflict is played out on a grand stage with the fates of Europa and three other worlds—Earth, Luna and Jupiter—in the balance. The story sticks to a familiar adventure style, and the battle between the brothers is an old chestnut of melodrama, but it’s told with gusto and conviction. The vivid secondary characters mostly avoid falling into stock types, and some plot twists and moral ambiguity add a bit of sophistication. The strong action scenes are fast-paced throughout (although often harsh and gory), the dialogue flows well, and the fictional world is detailed, plausible and well-designed, from its planets to its spaceships. The author isn’t afraid to show the more grotesque sides of society, which may seem off-putting to some readers, as when characters debate the merits and flaws of using technology to reanimate dead soldiers. There are some typos and minor grammatical errors but nothing that readers will find particularly distracting. The story builds to a satisfying conclusion, and naturally, the author leaves room for sequels.

Well-written, sincere and undemanding military sci-fi adventure.

Pub Date: Aug. 5, 2013

ISBN: 978-1484112014

Page Count: 406

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2014

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Spanning centuries and continents, this is a darkly romantic and suspenseful tale by a writer at the top of her game.

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THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE

When you deal with the darkness, everything has a price.

“Never pray to the gods that answer after dark.” Adeline tried to heed this warning, but she was desperate to escape a wedding she didn’t want and a life spent trapped in a small town. So desperate that she didn’t notice the sun going down. And so she made a deal: For freedom, and time, she will surrender her soul when she no longer wants to live. But freedom came at a cost. Adeline didn’t want to belong to anyone; now she is forgotten every time she slips out of sight. She has spent 300 years living like a ghost, unable even to speak her own name. She has affairs with both men and women, but she can never have a comfortable intimacy built over time—only the giddy rush of a first meeting, over and over again. So when she meets a boy who, impossibly, remembers her, she can’t walk away. What Addie doesn’t know is why Henry is the first person in 300 years who can remember her. Or why Henry finds her as compelling as she finds him. And, of course, she doesn’t know how the devil she made a deal with will react if he learns that the rules of their 300-year-long game have changed. This spellbinding story unspools in multiple timelines as Addie moves through history, learning the rules of her curse and the whims of her captor. Meanwhile, both Addie and the reader get to know Henry and understand what sets him apart. This is the kind of book you stay up all night reading—rich and satisfying and strange and impeccably crafted.

Spanning centuries and continents, this is a darkly romantic and suspenseful tale by a writer at the top of her game.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8756-1

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

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KLARA AND THE SUN

Nobelist Ishiguro returns to familiar dystopian ground with this provocative look at a disturbing near future.

Klara is an AF, or “Artificial Friend,” of a slightly older model than the current production run; she can’t do the perfect acrobatics of the newer B3 line, and she is in constant need of recharging owing to “solar absorption problems,” so much so that “after four continuous days of Pollution,” she recounts, “I could feel myself weakening.” She’s uncommonly intelligent, and even as she goes unsold in the store where she’s on display, she takes in the details of every human visitor. When a teenager named Josie picks her out, to the dismay of her mother, whose stern gaze “never softened or wavered,” Klara has the opportunity to learn a new grammar of portentous meaning: Josie is gravely ill, the Mother deeply depressed by the earlier death of her other daughter. Klara has never been outside, and when the Mother takes her to see a waterfall, Josie being too ill to go along, she asks the Mother about that death, only to be told, “It’s not your business to be curious.” It becomes clear that Klara is not just an AF; she’s being groomed to be a surrogate daughter in the event that Josie, too, dies. Much of Ishiguro’s tale is veiled: We’re never quite sure why Josie is so ill, the consequence, it seems, of genetic editing, or why the world has become such a grim place. It’s clear, though, that it’s a future where the rich, as ever, enjoy every privilege and where children are marshaled into forced social interactions where the entertainment is to abuse androids. Working territory familiar to readers of Brian Aldiss—and Carlo Collodi, for that matter—Ishiguro delivers a story, very much of a piece with his Never Let Me Go, that is told in hushed tones, one in which Klara’s heart, if she had one, is destined to be broken and artificial humans are revealed to be far better than the real thing.

A haunting fable of a lonely, moribund world that is entirely too plausible.

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-31817-1

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2020

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