Slowly pulls readers into a wondrous universe brimming with fascinating characters.

READ REVIEW

Spyridon

In James’ sci-fi debut, an Atlanta woman learns that she’s an alien and may be the one who prophecy says will save her own kind, enslaved by a race that overtook their planet.

Twenty-five-year-old Jane Doe knows that she’s different, inducing inexplicable terror in anyone near her. But even if she’s an orphan, she certainly couldn’t anticipate the Nhélanei, aliens from the planet Spyridon, an entire galaxy away. Led by Mikhél, the aliens tell Jane that she’s one of them; her real name is Seirsha. The Nhélanei’s arrival actually saves Jane, whose alien body needs nutrients that Earth can’t provide. But there’s more: she’s aboard the vessel Dhóchas for the return trip to Spyridon because she’s royalty, or the Baanrí. After a race called the Meijhé crushed the Nhélanei government and turned the population into slaves, Jane’s mother sneaked her infant daughter off to Earth. While most Nhélanei have gifts, Jane possesses a healing ability and a possible second skill, foresight, just like the prophesied “strong one” who’ll stop evil Meijhé leader Lhókesh. Mikhél and several others try to keep Jane’s identity hidden, but even on the ship there are Watchers, Nhélanei who spy for the enemy. Soon the Watchers will strike, planning to assassinate someone before Dhóchas can reach its destination. The novel, the first in a proposed series, is a riveting origins story. The bulk of the action is aboard the vessel, where Jane learns about her alien brethren as well as quite a few secrets Mikhél has stockpiled. There’s a plethora of explanations, but James steers clear of tedium by injecting mystery. Foreign terminology, for example, like jagat (development of the senses), typically appears well before the aliens define it. Jane and Mikhél’s relationship, too, is continually engaging. While the story clarifies their unmistakable connection later in the book, it’s clear from the beginning that romance is brewing. And before the couple’s had a proper introduction, Mikhél drops an impassioned winner, telling a dazed Jane, “Sleep…I’ll be here when you wake.” The stirring final act comprises explosions and threats on various lives, aptly setting up a sequel.

Slowly pulls readers into a wondrous universe brimming with fascinating characters.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: Feb. 24, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2016

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

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

Did you like this book?

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

THE VANISHING HALF

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

Did you like this book?

more