An intelligent, entertaining take on the possibilities of science.

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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LAST ORDERS

Britisher Swift's sixth novel (Ever After, 1992 etc.) and fourth to appear here is a slow-to-start but then captivating tale of English working-class families in the four decades following WW II. When Jack Dodds dies suddenly of cancer after years of running a butcher shop in London, he leaves a strange request—namely, that his ashes be scattered off Margate pier into the sea. And who could better be suited to fulfill this wish than his three oldest drinking buddies—insurance man Ray, vegetable seller Lenny, and undertaker Vic, all of whom, like Jack himself, fought also as soldiers or sailors in the long-ago world war. Swift's narrative start, with its potential for the melodramatic, is developed instead with an economy, heart, and eye that release (through the characters' own voices, one after another) the story's humanity and depth instead of its schmaltz. The jokes may be weak and self- conscious when the three old friends meet at their local pub in the company of the urn holding Jack's ashes; but once the group gets on the road, in an expensive car driven by Jack's adoptive son, Vince, the story starts gradually to move forward, cohere, and deepen. The reader learns in time why it is that no wife comes along, why three marriages out of three broke apart, and why Vince always hated his stepfather Jack and still does—or so he thinks. There will be stories of innocent youth, suffering wives, early loves, lost daughters, secret affairs, and old antagonisms—including a fistfight over the dead on an English hilltop, and a strewing of Jack's ashes into roiling seawaves that will draw up feelings perhaps unexpectedly strong. Without affectation, Swift listens closely to the lives that are his subject and creates a songbook of voices part lyric, part epic, part working-class social realism—with, in all, the ring to it of the honest, human, and true.

Pub Date: April 5, 1996

ISBN: 0-679-41224-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1996

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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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