Relishable lead characters front an enthusiastic, jaunty adventure.

Landfall

From the The Ship Series series , Vol. 1

In Aubin’s sci-fi series opener, a young cadet, part of a mission to save humanity by finding planets to colonize, stumbles onto a dangerous secret.

Zax, like many other teens, was born on a vessel known simply as the Ship and has trained since he was a child. It’s been millennia since humans, facing extinction on a dying Earth, built the Ship, during which time they’ve searched for habitable planets. Zax is a bright trainee who’s earned enough credits to put him on top of the Leaderboard, making his dream of becoming a pilot a distinct possibility. He’s unfortunately the object of ridicule—he vomits practically on cue during FTL (Faster-Than-Light) Transit. But he proves himself during a refueling operation when an attacking spacecraft surprises the Ship’s fighters. The Flight Boss praises Zax and fellow cadet Kalare for rescuing lives, but Zax earns the ire of trainer Cyrus, who winds up condemned and humiliated. The Boss, impressed by Zax and Kalare, proclaims he’ll mentor one of them, support that could garner the mentored a “gazillion extra points on the Leaderboard”. The two must endure rigorous Marine training, and Zax tries to avoid a revenge-minded Cyrus. They’ll have a chance to scout a new planet, already inhabited by aliens…and something considerably more shocking. Aubin’s debut novel launches a series; it merely touches on numerous elements that will most likely resurface later. Readers get little insight, for example, into the frequently mentioned concept of being “Plugged In,” which involves an implant that links a person to the Ship and allows private communication. Aubin does, however, slowly inject suspense, especially when Zax learns a secret that may be fatal for him to know. Most characters, like Marine officers, are belligerent, undermining Zax and Kalare. But those two are plenty likable. Zax is persistently ambitious and perky, and the talkative Kalare can’t suppress her giggles. The novel uses understandable jargon and sprints through the narrative until the end, when Zax makes a decision that could have drastic consequences—and aptly sets the stage for a sequel.

Relishable lead characters front an enthusiastic, jaunty adventure.

Pub Date: Dec. 6, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9970708-1-1

Page Count: 340

Publisher: Lekanyane Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 3, 2016

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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