The beginning of an elegant, spirited rebellion saga.


Fan (The Adventures of the Silicon Beeches, 2017, etc.) begins a new YA sci-fi series in which an alien civilization patronizes performing arts prodigies on Earth.

In 2268, 15-year-old Iris Lei plays viola at the Papilio School, near Charlotte, North Carolina. The passionate human musicians, dancers, and acrobats of Papilio are sponsored by telepathic aliens called the Adryil. The highest-ranked students become “Artists” and travel to distant Adrye, where they perform for decades to repay their training debt. Iris’ musician mother, Theia Lei, is one such Artist, but she’s had no contact with her for 11 years. Iris is studying her mother’s profile one night on the Wall of Glory on the quad when alarms sound, and the teen witnesses security bots chasing a boy with amber skin and azure eyes—an Adryil. Before the bots capture him, he presses an oval object into her hand and says, “Don’t let them take it from you.” Later, Iris activates the object, causing its etchings to glow green, but she’s unsure of its function. As she continues to struggle within Papilio’s ranking system, she begins to feel an odd presence. Eventually, the captured Adryil, Dámiul Verik, contacts her—via a screen on the object he gave her; he wants to train her in how to defend herself against telepathic mind control. In this crafty series opener, Fan presents a future in which 21st-century problems have become further entrenched; at one point Iris explains that “there really is no middle. Only the rich and those who are different shades of poor.” Fan’s twist on telepathy is engaging: because the Adryil can share feelings so completely, they make no art of their own. Her insights into the artistic drive are also poignant: “Even if I stood at the edge of the universe with only my viola…I’d play to oblivion,” observes Iris. The story’s second half develops into a space opera, revealing the Adryil’s darkest secrets and showing Iris risking her individuality for love. Ultimately, though, this is a sophisticated commentary on art, society, and how we perceive our own worth.

The beginning of an elegant, spirited rebellion saga.

Pub Date: Aug. 29, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-946202-27-7

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Snowy Wings Publishing

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

Did you like this book?

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • 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

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet