An understated genre tale that should engage readers with its smart, lighthearted tone.



A billionaire enlists a noted ex-advertising man to promote space tourism for a public that, in light of a recent UFO sighting, may be a bit wary in this sci-fi-infused sequel.

Convincing the world that a man named Sebastian was the Messiah reborn was just another gig for Mal Thomas. But now he’s famous, with his resultant book a best-seller that has turned him into an “accidental spiritual guru” approached by random strangers. He catches the eye of Huw Hudson, CEO of Space Rider, who aspires to provide outer space tours. Space tourism could be a reality in a matter of years, but a phenomenon in Mthatha, South Africa—unexplained lights and a rugby ball shape—may prove a detriment. Hudson wants Mal to allay any of the public’s potential fears of contact with an alien species. But FBI Special Agent Chloe Swift sees reason to distrust the CEO: she’s unofficially investigating the disappearance of Italian cold fusion physicist Aldo Totti. The physicist vanished while vacationing in Florida but he may have visited Hudson’s Brazilian facility. Mal heads to Mthatha to talk to the town residents, and he and Swift soon deduce that the reputed UFO may have been a hoax, part of a coverup to conceal Hudson’s true agenda. Much of Holden’s (Sea of Doubt, 2016, etc.) story plays like a compelling mystery: the puzzling lights, the missing scientist, and later someone’s kidnapping. The sci-fi elements are minimal but absorbing, especially once whatever Hudson has at his facility is revealed. Mal is a likable, fully developed protagonist who recognizes his faults. He acknowledges that Hudson could be manipulating him, simply because Mal has previously succumbed to similar maneuvering. Mal also observes situations as a sci-fi fan (he’s an admitted Trekkie), though the deft descriptions fortunately don’t rely on pop-culture references. For example, he may anticipate the USS Enterprise for a craft’s cockpit but recounts instead an atypical “cavernous interior.” The eventual diverting foray into sci-fi territory is a revelation for Mal, both as an extraordinary event and a personal experience.

An understated genre tale that should engage readers with its smart, lighthearted tone.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9978970-1-2

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Clean Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 29, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet