An ambitious, if slightly underwhelming, tale about sexual slavery.

BLINDFOLDED, SILENCED, TORTURED...NEVER FORGOTTEN!

A debut novel calls attention to the sex-trafficking crisis.

Remacy loves calligraphy and horseback riding, but when her father dies and her mother remarries, her stepfather begins “grooming” her for molestation. Lukas loves to surf, though he too is mourning his dead father when he’s abducted suddenly amid a family vacation to Atlantic City. Shaukita thinks an older boy is going to take her to a school dance, but he drugs her, and she wakes up chained to a bed. Sophie is born into “the life,” a slave taken from her mother and moved from place to place at the mercy of her captors. One way or another, these children all find themselves caught in the underworld of sex trafficking and slavery. The novel follows them and others who are involved in this terrifying work, including those who perpetuate it. Giovanni is a “two-bit bookie” who starts running girls in order to make more money. Robert is a businessman with particular desires that cause him to search out the services of children. Annika, Lukas’ mother, works tirelessly to discover what has happened to her son. Abrams follows 12 characters (including one named Joann Abrams) as their stories intersect across time and space, slowly revealing the extent of human depravity—and resilience. The author narrates each of her characters in the first person, summoning them with energetic, personality-laden prose, as here with young Lukas: “During the summer, I wash my own clothes. No one goes near them. The joys of childhood! Surfing, boarding, soccer and tennis, that’s me!” The author does a sound job presenting the various perspectives of those involved without removing the moral dimension of the premise: The victims remain victims and the villains, villains. But readers may have a hard time becoming fully immersed in such an explicitly didactic story. Abrams includes both a long foreword and a conclusion in addition to her largely unnecessary appearance as a character. (She also offers a sizable helping of Christianity with her perspective, which every reader may not want.) Even so, the book continues in the fine tradition of muckraking social novels.

An ambitious, if slightly underwhelming, tale about sexual slavery.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 142

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 5, 2019

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

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DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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