One superman’s bloody battles with negative power run amok.

THE WELLSPRING IMMORTAL

Beneath the gore of Nolan’s first novel lies a morality play in which a shaman passes along 1,200 years worth of life lessons to his successor through a gruesome fight that only one can survive.

Young Pico becomes an immortal superhuman, and he must choose good or evil as his driving force. This moral choice is also a physical one, because he was made immortal by the magic of the wellsprings. Its power comes with an insatiable addiction that can be fed only by blood and mastered only by supreme mental control. Pico learns the necessary skills through the teachings of his mentor, Kani, first in person, then by written legacy, then through harsh experience on his own. His story is a tour of violence across an Earth-like planet peopled with familiar archetypes—early Native Americans, Celts, Christians—altered to fit that world’s supernatural conditions. Everyone is fodder for the predatory Sachems, an immortal race fueled by the wellsprings. Pico becomes the strongest of them, and must either emulate Kani and control his addiction so he can foster the world or succumb and consume the population. Either way, he must conquer his nemesis, Enos. Once Kani’s friend, Enos chose the dark path while Kani chose the light, and only one of them can remain. Nolan tells their story in a dispassionate narrative with revolving viewpoints. Although engaging, the book comes across like a flat horror novel, because the characters react shallowly, if at all, to continual—and often extreme—brutality. Squeamish readers may need to skim in order to follow the plot without being revolted by some descriptions. And technically picky readers will stumble on consistent misuse of “lie” for “lay” and canoe paddles referred to as oars. Fantasy fans will appreciate the heroic-quest flavor and credible worldbuilding. Anyone romantically inclined, however, will want to hear about the positive-energy wellsprings instead of just the negative ones. Given that the book may launch a series, stories about positive wellsprings may emerge.

One superman’s bloody battles with negative power run amok.

Pub Date: Dec. 22, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615554150

Page Count: 158

Publisher: ICURYY, LLC

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2012

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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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