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

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A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

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A financier's Ponzi scheme unravels to disastrous effect, revealing the unexpected connections among a cast of disparate characters.

How did Vincent Smith fall overboard from a container ship near the coast of Mauritania, fathoms away from her former life as Jonathan Alkaitis' pretend trophy wife? In this long-anticipated follow-up to Station Eleven (2014), Mandel uses Vincent's disappearance to pick through the wreckage of Alkaitis' fraudulent investment scheme, which ripples through hundreds of lives. There's Paul, Vincent's half brother, a composer and addict in recovery; Olivia, an octogenarian painter who invested her retirement savings in Alkaitis' funds; Leon, a former consultant for a shipping company; and a chorus of office workers who enabled Alkaitis and are terrified of facing the consequences. Slowly, Mandel reveals how her characters struggle to align their stations in life with their visions for what they could be. For Vincent, the promise of transformation comes when she's offered a stint with Alkaitis in "the kingdom of money." Here, the rules of reality are different and time expands, allowing her to pursue video art others find pointless. For Alkaitis, reality itself is too much to bear. In his jail cell, he is confronted by the ghosts of his victims and escapes into "the counterlife," a soothing alternate reality in which he avoided punishment. It's in these dreamy sections that Mandel's ideas about guilt and responsibility, wealth and comfort, the real and the imagined, begin to cohere. At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical. How far will Alkaitis go to deny responsibility for his actions? And how quickly will his wealth corrupt the ambitions of those in proximity to it? In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure.

A strange, subtle, and haunting novel.

Pub Date: March 24, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-52114-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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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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