While the pacing fails to match the urgency of the central plot, the tale delivers a complex blend of ecological sci-fi and...



From the Arcadia series , Vol. 1

Two eco-engineers trying to save their planet from environmental disaster discover their employer may possess a hidden agenda in this first installment of a series.

On the wind-swept plains of the planet Arcadia, a flyer descends and deposits its lone passenger, an eco-engineer named Fee Den Coille. She’s traveled from the mountains to meet her partner, Caleb Winter, a native of the plains and an expert in passive wind and solar utilization. Fee’s expertise in water and transpiration is needed in the plains. Both come from powerful corporate families. Caleb’s family company, Winter Solaris, is a leader in solar energy on the plains while the Den Coille family dominates the market in nutrient-rich trees. Fee and Caleb work for the Survey, an organization dedicated to maintaining the ecological balance of Arcadia. The environmental fabric of the planet is unraveling and the Survey has assigned to Fee and Caleb the task of rescuing Arcadia. Loyal to the Survey, they commence work on the project, knowing it will affect their families’ businesses. As Arcadia begins to change, they discover the Survey may be keeping secrets that place them and their families in danger. Jones’ (Swift Runs the Heart, 2016, etc.) sci-fi epic offers an intricate plot and rich characterizations. In creating Arcadia and the environmental dangers that threaten it, the author includes several themes, including the ethics of ecological engineering and corporate responsibility. Arcadia is a vividly imagined planet with distinctive terrain and ecological challenges, and a complex political structure. To help readers navigate Arcadia, Jones includes a full character list and a glossary of key terms and measurements used on the planet. Fee and Caleb are strong lead characters whose eventual romance unfolds gradually but provides a solid emotional core to the second half of the book. But for a story built around a race against time, at more than 600 pages, the novel’s pacing is leisurely.

While the pacing fails to match the urgency of the central plot, the tale delivers a complex blend of ecological sci-fi and political thriller.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-473-36657-5

Page Count: 608

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 27, 2017

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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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