An immersive and satisfying science fiction thriller.

BRINK OF LIFE

From the Brink of Life Trilogy series , Vol. 2

A woman wakes up in a body not her own in this novel from Moskovitz (A Stand-in for Dying, 2019), the second in his Brink of Life trilogy.

January 2059. After somehow losing consciousness, a woman comes to at a funeral—the funeral of her husband, Arlo Kresky. The only problem? She’s never seen the man said to be her husband. Indeed, when she gets in front of a mirror, she’s never before seen the person looking back at her, either: “It was a pretty face. Some might say exquisite. Her hair was jet black and straight, falling almost to her shoulders….Even after this close inspection, there wasn’t a trace of familiarity. The face in the mirror remained a stranger.” She is apparently the widow Petra Kresky, but she does not associate this beautiful, bruise-covered woman with herself. Is she suffering from amnesia? No, because she does have a sense of her former self and of a woman named Macklyn. She learns from her household android that Petra, despite being 42, is kept at the biological age of 20 by some mysterious technology. She also discovers that the dead Arlo was obsessed with immortality and that Petra has been carrying on an affair with Arlo’s hired biographer, Connor. As she digs into the truth of her identity, she uncovers a truly remarkable web of secrets: a clandestine program to keep the rich young forever, a government spy organization, and an anti-immortality hacker group bent on bringing it all down. Moskovitz tells the story with urgent concision, his prose brisk and clear: “She disembarked and melted quickly into a rush hour crowd, hurrying home or to their chosen entertainment of the evening. The sides of skyscrapers were lit with images from the day’s events. She stopped short in front of one such display that featured an image of Connor rising eight stories high.” This makes the story a quicker and more satisfying read than even the previous volume in the series (which is related to this one but not necessary to have read to understand it). With his thoughtful exploration of the ethical consequences of technology and class division, Moskovitz offers another sci-fi morality tale in the tradition of Philip K. Dick and Black Mirror.

An immersive and satisfying science fiction thriller.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73417-891-3

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Fluke Tale Productions

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2020

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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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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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