An intelligent, entertaining take on the possibilities of science.

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LEGEND OF SUMERIA

LIFE · BLOOD · DNA

In Webb and Parekkadan’s debut graphic novel, a near-future civilization is in danger of collapse due to bioterrorism and a miracle drug that may no longer be effective.

Stem cell biologist Bruce Abbott’s Tigris is a drug that’s supposed to end all disease. It’s part of what has made the Nyima Corporation, run by CEO Damon Locke, a global powerhouse. The company is also behind the SEQ network, which contains information on billions of human genomes. The world’s internet and power grid were once brought down for days by a geomagnetic event, so to secure a new power source, NASA plans a mission to sister planet Kepler Z. Some sick people on Earth, however, aren’t in the SEQ system and are being turned away by SEQ-approved physicians. Concurrently, bioterrorists have released a synthetic disease that Tigris won’t cure, leading to an outbreak. Investigators with the Department of Homeland Security connect an ancient marking associated with terrorists to a symbol on Bruce’s watch, which belonged to his brother, Jack, who’s been in hiding for some time. As riots and suicides increase, government operative Henry Ford, in defiance of CIA orders, hopes to find answers by tracking down the symbol’s origin. Or perhaps Earth’s salvation lies with astronaut Tessa Jones, who reaches Kepler Z and discovers an alien species. The authors’ story succeeds at explaining its scientific terminology and seamlessly incorporating it into the narrative. Chapter titles provide definitions that double as metaphors; “Apoptosis,” for instance, is defined as the process of “programmed cell suicide,” while some characters believe that people’s suicides are part of natural human development. Most characters are ambiguous at first; a flashback of Bruce’s relationship with Jack, for instance, sheds light on both men, and more twists involving Bruce come later. The colorful panels are courtesy of LaGaipa and a team of artists, and although differences in the artwork are discernible, the characters and settings remain cohesive. A finale packed with plot turns feels like the setup for a new story rather than an open ending. It’s unquestionably rousing, but readers may anticipate a follow-up.

An intelligent, entertaining take on the possibilities of science.

Pub Date: March 20, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9998195-1-7

Page Count: 284

Publisher: Dream Novels LLC

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

THE RESCUE

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

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