A veritable carnival of geeky sci-fi delights.

Earthman Jack vs. The Secret Army

Kadish’s follow-up volume to Earthman Jack vs. The Ghost Planet (2013) sends its heroes into the heart of the Regulus Empire.

After defeating the Deathlord Supreme Zarrod, 15-year-old Jack Finnegan and his heroic friends—professor Green, Scallywag the Red, Heckubus Moriarty, and Grohm the Rognok—have escaped the Ghost Planet. Traveling in the Ancients’ miraculous Earthship, they escort Princess Glorianna (formerly a student named Anna) back to the Regulus Empire and to the planet Omnicron Prime, where she will rule. The sprawling, technologically advanced world celebrates Jack as a hero, but Anna, whom he deeply loves, insists that her duties to the galactic realm preclude their future together. Eventually, Chief of Intelligence Phineas Alabaster learns of Jack’s devotion and asks him to cozy up to the Legacy families who are ruthlessly competing to marry into the throne: the Evenstars and the Skyborns. As Jack dates Kimlee Evenstar and befriends Mourdock Skyborn, he becomes entangled in Omnicron’s deadly politics and learns that the Deathlords’ reach is greater and more insidious than he previously imagined. After multiple assassination attempts throw things into chaos, Anna begins enforcing her rule with suspicious brutality. With Jack’s friends scattered across Omnicron and his Earthship held by the Maguffyn Corporation, who can help him expose the secret army manipulating the empire? Author Kadish uses his flair for humor, tightly threaded plots, and nerdy trivia to widen the scope of his YA space opera. Although the tone mostly revels in goofball wit, some self-aware cheekiness occasionally appears; for example, one character likens the previous Earthman Jack adventure to “a bad piece of fantasy fiction someone wrote to entertain simple-minded beings of questionable worthiness to society.” The cultural references, meanwhile, turn the novel into a Grand Central Station of sci-fi weirdness (including an apparent nod to 1980s TV character Max Headroom). Kadish’s cinema worship sometimes feels like a narrative crutch; for example, the same Ghostbusters gag opens and nearly closes the story. However, some of the characters temper the silliness with heart and intelligence. A cliffhanger ending provides an ideal place for readers of this kaleidoscopic saga to catch their breath.

A veritable carnival of geeky sci-fi delights.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2015


Page Count: 644

Publisher: Twelve Oaks Media

Review Posted Online: Aug. 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet


The years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

Did you like this book?



A flabby, fervid melodrama of a high-strung Southern family from Conroy (The Great Santini, The Lords of Discipline), whose penchant for overwriting once again obscures a genuine talent. Tom Wingo is an unemployed South Carolinian football coach whose internist wife is having an affair with a pompous cardiac man. When he hears that his fierce, beautiful twin sister Savannah, a well-known New York poet, has once again attempted suicide, he escapes his present emasculation by flying north to meet Savannah's comely psychiatrist, Susan Lowenstein. Savannah, it turns out, is catatonic, and before the suicide attempt had completely assumed the identity of a dead friend—the implication being that she couldn't stand being a Wingo anymore. Susan (a shrink with a lot of time on her hands) says to Tom, "Will you stay in New York and tell me all you know?" and he does, for nearly 600 mostly-bloated pages of flashbacks depicting The Family Wingo of swampy Colleton County: a beautiful mother, a brutal shrimper father (the Great Santini alive and kicking), and Tom and Savannah's much-admired older brother, Luke. There are enough traumas here to fall an average-sized mental ward, but the biggie centers around Luke, who uses the skills learned as a Navy SEAL in Vietnam to fight a guerrilla war against the installation of a nuclear power plant in Colleton and is killed by the authorities. It's his death that precipitates the nervous breakdown that costs Tom his job, and Savannah, almost, her life. There may be a barely-glimpsed smaller novel buried in all this succotash (Tom's marriage and life as a football coach), but it's sadly overwhelmed by the book's clumsy central narrative device (flashback ad infinitum) and Conroy's pretentious prose style: ""There are no verdicts to childhood, only consequences, and the bright freight of memory. I speak now of the sun-struck, deeply lived-in days of my past.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1986

ISBN: 0553381547

Page Count: 686

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: Oct. 30, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1986

Did you like this book?