A fast-paced adventure that will excite lovers of anime and comics, but one that trades wider appeal for complex mythology.

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KINGS OF FORTUNE

In Cheung’s novel, a man’s boring life is interrupted by a gang of immortal bounty hunters trying to take his soul.

Every day, Leon Zylo, “gets off work feeling a little more dead than the day before.” Even his beautiful, loving girlfriend, Rachel, and the tantalizing sights and sounds of Fortune City, the sprawling “megatropolis” where he lives, aren’t enough to combat the apathy brought on by his boring office job. One day, he’s awakened from his lethargic existence by loud bangs at his door. A stylish man named Kitsune informs him that he’s been “contracted.” A gang of “Baya,” known as the Immortal Aces, will be coming to kill him in 24 hours: “The last day of your life starts after the next sixty seconds,” Kitsune says. Leon receives an official-looking contract that explains the rules, but it doesn’t reveal what a Baya is or why this is all happening. He largely ignores it, and the next day, he finds himself the prey of a pack of “[s]ome super invincible league of assassins who dress like pompous jerks.” He struggles through daring street chases, hops on roofs, and evades his pursuers on speeding trains before realizing that the bounty they seek is more than his life itself—it is his very soul. Soon, even more dangerous hunters are drawn into the chase, and Leon makes a daring choice that leads him to the truth about the Baya and their mysterious powers. Cheung’s prose is reminiscent of a comic book: short, punchy sentences propel exciting moments of action and complement his amusing, pun-filled dialogue. The clever conceit at this thrill ride’s core—that the more Leon tries to stay alive, the more valuable his life becomes—turns the cat-and-mouse game into a concise metaphor for urban ennui. However, halfway through, Cheung boldly goes in a surprising new direction, developing the lore of the Baya and leaving behind some of the more intriguing and universal elements. The author continues to maintain an exciting pace, but something special gets lost when he delves too deep into the fantasy.

A fast-paced adventure that will excite lovers of anime and comics, but one that trades wider appeal for complex mythology.

Pub Date: April 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-0692399125

Page Count: 404

Publisher: SmoothOperratus

Review Posted Online: June 5, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2015

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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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