Will certainly leave sci-fi fans elated, but should attract all readers.

NAKED BRAIN

In Hunt’s debut sci-fi thriller, one man must stop the launch of a spacecraft that might lead to the extinction of humankind.

The U.S. government sees Duke Nolan as a threat: Officials have surmised that he was taken by an alien race many years ago, so his recent knowledge of military secrets must mean that he’s either abetting aliens or is one of them. Duke, however, has another purpose. He’s been gifted with God’s Light—the same energy force used to create the universe. His mission? To prevent the completion of a ship designed after an alien spacecraft that is powered by a particle accelerator with the strength of God’s Light—and which could lead to catastrophic results. The notable presence of aliens makes it easy to define Hunt’s novel as sci-fi, but religion and (modern) science are also integral to the plot. In fact, Duke, intending to educate humans, says that God and science are “one and the same.” It’s a fascinating concept, asserting that evolution is part of God’s plan in lieu of a naturally occurring progression. The book is respectful to both sides of the debate; it does lean more toward religion, especially Christianity, but is never heavy-handed. Particularly compelling are the understated themes of the Crucifixion, the Great Flood and a clever reimagining of Adam and Eve. And Duke, despite his “power,” is kept human. When his family is killed in an attempt to get to him, readers can’t help but wonder if revenge is his true drive, especially after he dedicates some of his kills to family members: “This is for….” Hunt maintains suspense with a constant reminder of the impending launch—the book’s chapters are in descending order, like a countdown—and the final act blazes with solid action, a few surprises and an inspired way of tying together some of the lingering minor plots. Perhaps most significantly, readers are provided with an early taste of the particle accelerator’s destructive capabilities—planes falling from the sky, an entire country lost—so there’s no question of what the characters should fear.

Will certainly leave sci-fi fans elated, but should attract all readers.

Pub Date: July 3, 2012

ISBN: 978-1470013592

Page Count: 356

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Aug. 20, 2012

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Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

CILKA'S JOURNEY

In this follow-up to the widely read The Tattooist of Auschwitz (2018), a young concentration camp survivor is sentenced to 15 years’ hard labor in a Russian gulag.

The novel begins with the liberation of Auschwitz by Soviet troops in 1945. In the camp, 16-year-old Cecilia "Cilka" Klein—one of the Jewish prisoners introduced in Tattooist—was forced to become the mistress of two Nazi commandants. The Russians accuse her of collaborating—they also think she might be a spy—and send her to the Vorkuta Gulag in Siberia. There, another nightmarish scenario unfolds: Cilka, now 18, and the other women in her hut are routinely raped at night by criminal-class prisoners with special “privileges”; by day, the near-starving women haul coal from the local mines in frigid weather. The narrative is intercut with Cilka’s grim memories of Auschwitz as well as her happier recollections of life with her parents and sister before the war. At Vorkuta, her lot improves when she starts work as a nurse trainee at the camp hospital under the supervision of a sympathetic woman doctor who tries to protect her. Cilka also begins to feel the stirrings of romantic love for Alexandr, a fellow prisoner. Though believing she is cursed, Cilka shows great courage and fortitude throughout: Indeed, her ability to endure trauma—as well her heroism in ministering to the sick and wounded—almost defies credulity. The novel is ostensibly based on a true story, but a central element in the book—Cilka’s sexual relationship with the SS officers—has been challenged by the Auschwitz Memorial Research Center and by the real Cilka’s stepson, who says it is false. As in Tattooist, the writing itself is workmanlike at best and often overwrought.

Though gripping, even moving at times, the novel doesn’t do justice to the solemn history from which it is drawn.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-26570-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS

These letters from some important executive Down Below, to one of the junior devils here on earth, whose job is to corrupt mortals, are witty and written in a breezy style seldom found in religious literature. The author quotes Luther, who said: "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." This the author does most successfully, for by presenting some of our modern and not-so-modern beliefs as emanating from the devil's headquarters, he succeeds in making his reader feel like an ass for ever having believed in such ideas. This kind of presentation gives the author a tremendous advantage over the reader, however, for the more timid reader may feel a sense of guilt after putting down this book. It is a clever book, and for the clever reader, rather than the too-earnest soul.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1942

ISBN: 0060652934

Page Count: 53

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1943

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