Relishable lead characters front an enthusiastic, jaunty adventure.

READ REVIEW

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE GIVER OF STARS

Women become horseback librarians in 1930s Kentucky and face challenges from the landscape, the weather, and the men around them.

Alice thought marrying attractive American Bennett Van Cleve would be her ticket out of her stifling life in England. But when she and Bennett settle in Baileyville, Kentucky, she realizes that her life consists of nothing more than staying in their giant house all day and getting yelled at by his unpleasant father, who owns a coal mine. She’s just about to resign herself to a life of boredom when an opportunity presents itself in the form of a traveling horseback library—an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt meant to counteract the devastating effects of the Depression by focusing on literacy and learning. Much to the dismay of her husband and father-in-law, Alice signs up and soon learns the ropes from the library’s leader, Margery. Margery doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, rejects marriage, and would rather be on horseback than in a kitchen. And even though all this makes Margery a town pariah, Alice quickly grows to like her. Along with several other women (including one black woman, Sophia, whose employment causes controversy in a town that doesn’t believe black and white people should be allowed to use the same library), Margery and Alice supply magazines, Bible stories, and copies of books like Little Women to the largely poor residents who live in remote areas. Alice spends long days in terrible weather on horseback, but she finally feels happy in her new life in Kentucky, even as her marriage to Bennett is failing. But her powerful father-in-law doesn’t care for Alice’s job or Margery’s lifestyle, and he’ll stop at nothing to shut their library down. Basing her novel on the true story of the Pack Horse Library Project established by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s, Moyes (Still Me, 2018, etc.) brings an often forgotten slice of history to life. She writes about Kentucky with lush descriptions of the landscape and tender respect for the townspeople, most of whom are poor, uneducated, and grateful for the chance to learn. Although Alice and Margery both have their own romances, the true power of the story is in the bonds between the women of the library. They may have different backgrounds, but their commitment to helping the people of Baileyville brings them together.

A love letter to the power of books and friendship.

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-399-56248-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more