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

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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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

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

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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