A promising, if chatty, first installment in a spacefaring adventure.



From the Rorschach Explorer Missions series , Vol. 1

A sequence of clicks in otherwise mundane radio signals may indicate the presence of aliens on a Jovian moon in Donoghue’s (UMO, 2018, etc.) sci-fi series entry.

Aerospace engineer Kiera Walsh’s former roommate asks her to meet with a man named Ajay Joshi. He’s an accountant by trade, but he’s also an amateur astronomer who’s made a discovery that Kiera has trouble believing. Specifically, he’s found periodic clicking noises in readily available NASA recordings of Jupiter’s radio waves. Most people claim that these are merely interference, but Ajay surmises that the clicks, which occur in a pattern, are an alien broadcast to Earth from Callisto, one of Jupiter’s moons. When Kiera peruses the recordings, she finds some validity in Ajay’s claims. She and fellow engineer Dante Fulton relay the information to billionaire Augustus Amato, whose company, A3rospace Industries, is focused on deep-space exploration. Amato responds by expediting a mission to Callisto; he suspects that if NASA makes it there first, there will be a coverup. Apparently, NASA has plenty of secrets, including a failed space mission to Callisto 23 years ago and the discovery of alien beings there, known as UMOs (“unidentified magnetic objects”). Soon, the race to Callisto becomes a tense standoff. Donoghue’s multigenre approach to his series opener is a triumph. Although it’s primarily science fiction, the story also boasts thrillerlike suspense (Amato is threatened with imprisonment at one point) and mystery (very little is known about the UMOs, which appear as light). Numerous characters evolve over the course of the story even though it’s only Book 1: Ajay turns out to be more than just an internet conspiracy theorist, and NASA’s chief administrator, Dennis Pritchard, begins as Amato’s ally, but circumstances change their relationship. The narrative is largely driven by dialogue—intelligent, engrossing discussions of such subjects as probe launching and how the UMOs’ behavior is akin to that of Earth’s bees. This approach results in minimal action scenes, but the ending promises further adventures with these well-drawn characters.

A promising, if chatty, first installment in a spacefaring adventure.

Pub Date: Dec. 14, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9997614-2-7

Page Count: 324

Publisher: Leaping Leopard Enterprises, LLC

Review Posted Online: Feb. 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

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

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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

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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