A debut YA novel set in a world of suspicion and violence, narrated by a condemned girl who suffers for the sake of her peers.
Cecily Daye is a seemingly average teenage girl. She lives on her family’s farm with her parents and brother, Dusty, in the fictional country of Stoughton. She has the requisite best friend, Laura Hardy; cranky teacher, Mrs. Dumphry; and adoring boyfriend, Nate Rowe. This semblance of normalcy is at risk, because Cecily is one of the sevens: seven girls “born on July seventeenth at seven-forty-seven p.m.,” who are expected “to become evil” on their 17th birthdays. Pastor Rowe, the hatred-spouting, whip-wielding religious leader of the town of Dunlowe, sees this as a clear indication of evil. “I believe she is trying to be good, but I believe she will fail,” the pastor says of Cecily. In his effort to keep the sevens’ evil at bay, he burdens the girls with a multitude of restrictions—known as “the traditions”—barring them from spending any time together lest they use their purported powers to collude against the town. When Laura dies on Cecily’s 17th birthday, Cecily bears the blame. Pastor Rowe places her in a pillory. The discipline escalates when Cecily makes a false confession in order to protect the other sevens, whom she eventually calls her sisters. Her public whipping galvanizes the girls’ resolve to flee the town that is positioned against them. The sevens’ adventures and revelations are portrayed with plentiful detail, but over time, the story weakens from too many elements. The town of Dunlowe, shivering under Pastor Rowe’s rule, is sufficiently enigmatic—not to mention terrifying—to create suspense and deliver thrills. When the sevens enter the Wild Wood—a forbidden area south of Dunlowe—they encounter monsters and immortals from a place called Darienne. Questions about their identity are finally answered, but the thoroughness of the answers is a disservice to the tale: The uncertainty is part of the fun.
A suspenseful story about friends, family and sacrifice.
A highly organized, informative discussion of the immigration system in the United States.
In this politically charged environment, Afrasiabi manages to broach the volatile issue of immigration in a well-rounded, surprisingly effective framework that combines case studies, historical research, statistical analysis and personal anecdotes to detail the current issues and propose solutions. Invocations of Kafka, “The Twilight Zone” and “Alice in Wonderland” prove warranted as illustrations of the often surreal circumstances that confront immigrants facing deportation. Immigrants usually lack access to quality legal representation, while their situation can be made doubly difficult due to language barriers and significant cultural differences. Afrasiabi incorporates his work with colleagues and students at the Chapman University School of Law to deftly weave together the facts of several compelling cases and their underlying legal issues, with a genuine sense of suspense as readers wonder if justice will be truly be served. Occasionally, though, the narrative becomes overwrought—two federal laws passed in 1996 are “dark storm clouds depositing their sleet”—although, considering the life-changing effects of court decisions, it’s difficult to overstate the ramifications: extralegal rendition of individuals with pending cases and the de facto deportation of native-born children whose parents are deported. Afrasiabi also addresses the legacy of various anti-alien laws in California, as well as marriage equality for same-sex couples when one partner is a noncitizen. As the subtitle asserts, Afrasiabi employs his additional experience in the field of property law to contrast the stark differences between immigration judges and constitutional judges, like their qualifications, vetting processes and even the oaths they take. His arguments culminate in seven concrete reforms proposed in the conclusion. In order to make the immigration system more just and effective, Afrasiabi claims the solutions are closer than we may think; we can implement procedures and safeguards already in place within the constitutional courts.
A persuasive, valuable addition to the ongoing immigration reform debate.
Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.
Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.
Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.