A solid beginning to a sci-fi series, with the promise of more adventures to come.

SEEKER OF TIME

A teenager finds new challenges and otherworldly surprises in this debut novel.

At the start of her senior year in high school, 17-year-old Elara Dunlin moves with her mom and dad from Maine to Texas. Elara, a loner, tries to cope with the uprooting. The climate is too hot; she is forced to take a Spanish class with freshmen; and the one friend she makes—Cyrus, whose affable nature and Greek god physique make her heart race—has a jealous cheerleader girlfriend. But Elara stays positive through her setbacks, focusing on things she is good at (calculus, English literature) and things she can make better through her own actions. What really worries her is the young man with the black hair and blue eyes she finds staring at her through the window on her first night in the new house. This same man seems to be stalking her and appearing, quite literally, out of nowhere, first near her alone and then around her and Cyrus when they’re together. Elara and Cyrus, it turns out, share a birthday; when they turn 18, they begin to exhibit supernatural powers. Elara confronts the black-haired stranger. She demands answers, but those answers turn her life—not just her teen existence in Texas, but also her entire personal history—upside down. What secret past do she, Cyrus, and the stranger share? And once it is revealed, what will the future hold? In this series opener, Buckler (Stillness of Time, 2018) writes in an easy, engaging style, foreshadowing the book’s (somewhat expository) turn toward sci-fi but in the meantime building the story upward from the point of view of a normal teen with everyday problems. The romance element serves to ground Elara in readers’ estimation while life lessons are worked unobtrusively into the mix. The text is not without its faults: There are distracting glitches like “Unchartered Territory” and the persistent use of “parent’s” as a plural possessive. And Elara, although generally a convincing first-person narrator, sounds less natural when presenting her thoughts as an inner monologue. Nevertheless, the story is lightly paced, and the characters should appeal to YA and New Adult readers, with the players’ revelatory arcs creating anticipation for the sequel.

A solid beginning to a sci-fi series, with the promise of more adventures to come.

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-62747-122-0

Page Count: 408

Publisher: Gratus Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 21, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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