A favorable introduction to a sci-fi series that sets the stage for more action-packed adventures.

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HAMARTIA

Debut author Rich’s sci-fi novel sends its characters on a roller-coaster journey through time.

It’s the end of the 21st century, and the human race is facing its greatest threat yet. Although incredible advances in technology and society have solved many problems, thousands are dying of Metagenesis, a condition in which a person’s soul separates from their body after too many reincarnation cycles. After Grace Dartmouth learns that her son, Jordan, has contracted the terrible disease, she’s determined to do anything to save him. Her chance comes when the world’s leading Metagenesis specialist approaches her and her soon-to-be-ex-husband, Marc Dartmouth, about an unapproved clinical trial. Dr. Messie describes how Jordan’s soul could be repaired by cloning a compatible soul from a past life—in this case, one of Marc’s. Grace is the only person who could possibly recognize Marc’s soul, so she’s chosen to travel back to the year 2000 and find it. She and her companion, Kay, arrive in the Las Vegas of that era, where they must navigate confusing customs as they race to accomplish their mission. After Grace discovers some sinister omissions in Messie’s story, she’s forced to make a painful decision—with her son’s life hanging in the balance. Rich spins an ambitious and imaginative concept into a plot that’s full of fantastically complicated twists. Throughout, readers receive myriad details about the mechanics of the fictional world and the motivations of its characters. Throughout, the narrative raises and resolves questions at a brisk pace, making for a compelling page-turner. The author occasionally oversaturates the narrative with excessive description or heavy-handed explanation, but the engaging plot and likable characters make up for these flaws. Grace and Marc’s dynamic as they navigate their broken relationship and their son’s illness is especially well-rendered. Rich wraps things up with a cohesive, satisfying ending, leaving plenty of intrigue for a promised sequel.

A favorable introduction to a sci-fi series that sets the stage for more action-packed adventures.

Pub Date: Aug. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-947072-92-3

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Words Matter Publishing

Review Posted Online: Nov. 20, 2018

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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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THE VANISHING HALF

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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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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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