by Lesley L. Smith ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 23, 2018
A satisfactory sci-fi sequel that promises more cues to send in the clones.
In this second installment of a series, a rakish adventurer must unravel the riddle of alien technology while aboard a spaceship on an Earth cultural mission.
First-person narrator Jack Jones Jr.—actually a clone—is a randy, sybaritic youth, ready for lovemaking with all genders and species on the starship Shakespeare. The crew members are supposed to be Earth cultural ambassadors to various alien races, performing the classics in the ship’s theaters, but they are in reality conducting espionage on humanity’s behalf. In Smith’s (A Jack by Any Other Name, 2017, etc.) earlier novel, the protagonist discovered that his superspy clone sire—the original, 50-ish Jack Jones, presumed dead—had actually gone rogue and perpetrated all sorts of perfidy. With that mystery supposedly solved and the villain incarcerated on Earth, young Jack (and the book, for a while) feels a bit aimless, with little to do but have free-wheeling sex with gym-toned Shakespeare crewmates. But intrigue arises anyway. Jack is briefly abducted by an unidentified antagonist, and there is much unknown about the mysterious faster-than-light drive spheres that power the Shakespeare and other interstellar crafts lucky to get them. The machines are the result of shadowy ET trading and dealing. Nobody seems to know exactly how the FTL tech originates or works—except maybe nefarious “Old-Jack.” Smith’s lighthearted sequel continues her sci-fi Space Operetta series. The author is generous with the Shakespeare quotes (and, in places, David Bowie lyrics). As the tale grows more convoluted, though, Smith has to fall back repeatedly on a silly deus ex machina involving Jack’s “special skills,” a sort of quantum link he has with certain FTL drives that allows the clever clone to think unlikely events (like narrow escapes) into existence as needed. Even with this resourceful superpower, the smug, self-satisfied hero is on the shallow side, his distinguishing features including that he’s ever keen for rolls in the hay (or whatever) and he sometimes shows up for business naked. An abrupt cliffhanger ending announces this installment as a midchapter of the saga. While that’s a bit of a letdown, there should be genre readers prepared to keep up with the Joneses, much as a previous generation followed Keith Laumer’s dashing galactic diplomat, Jame Retief.A satisfactory sci-fi sequel that promises more cues to send in the clones.
Pub Date: April 23, 2018
Page Count: 334
Publisher: Quarky Media
Review Posted Online: July 14, 2018
Review Program: Kirkus Indie
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by Hanya Yanagihara ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 10, 2015
The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.
Awards & Accolades
Best Books Of 2015
National Book Award Finalist
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
Page Count: 720
Review Posted Online: Dec. 21, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 1, 2006
Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.
Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.
Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.
Pub Date: March 1, 2006
Page Count: 400
Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005
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