Though it abandons its initial intensity, this story showcases a welcome union of singular characters.

AWAKENING OF THE TWELVE—PART 1

THE TORCH SERIES: TRILOGY OF THE TITAN TWELVE

An enigmatic and diabolical ancient cult pursues a group of exceptional, multiethnic teens around the globe in this second installment of a fantasy series.

Twelve teenagers, each born in 2070, form the U.S. Titan Twelve. The talented teens competed as a team in the International Titan Games and won numerous gold medals. Now they’re celebrating with a planned vacation of visiting their ancestral homelands, countries ranging from Ghana to Italy. Sadly, there’s trouble before they even leave Thessaloniki, Greece, where the games were held. Lalitha Alexandra Gupta awakens early in the morning to the realization that Helena Maria Martin didn’t return from her late-night walk with Kofi N’Kosi Mark Annan. Equally shocking are Helena’s pleas for help, which Lalitha hears in her head, as do the other four Titan girls: Abena Ashanti Marie Richardson, Immanuela Rachel Abravanel, Fredrika Kathleen Johansson, and Wei Susan Wang. The boys (Humberto Matthew Santiago Fernandez Ramirez, Petrov Robert Vasiliev, Olis Joseph Kaiser, Zeno Thomas Theophilus, and Omari Samuel Hassan) inform the girls that N’Kosi is also missing. Using the girls’ newfound telepathy, signified by white color patterns in front of their eyes, they track down their friends. The group confronts menacing hooded individuals and discovers additional powers, like generating a telekinetic energy field. Helena and N’Kosi are fine, and Ashanti surmises that the abductions were some type of warning, verified later when they receive a cryptic note. They begin their world-trekking vacation, but it’s soon clear the kidnappers, who decree themselves the Dark Acolytes, are stalking them. As the cult’s objective is unknown, the Titans decide to get answers by using their special abilities combatively rather than as mere defense. Porter’s (Rise of the Twelve, 2016) series is essentially an origin story for superpowered teens. It’s engrossing to watch them slowly acquire abilities, which include levitation and a distinctive color pattern for each (telekinesis is blood red). Likewise, the Titans are still learning, as powers seem to emerge under stress and aren’t readily accessible. Nevertheless, the novel’s genuine focus is its potpourri of characters, featuring diverse lineages. This makes for a culturally rich narrative, as the Titans travel to different countries and experience the nations’ food, histories, and landmarks. Furthermore, it’s an opportunity to display the story’s late-21st-century technology, like spaceports, with shuttles flying in the high end of the stratosphere. Porter molds the Titans individually, not just their backgrounds, but their personalities as well. Witty Ashanti, for example, upon arrival in Rome, claims that the Italian-speaking captain (an android-esque Humanoid Intelligence unit) asks if she is a movie star. The unfortunate downside to the extensive global tour is that it sidelines the book’s thriller aspects. The opening kidnapping is rife with anticipation, as the Titans race to save Helena and N’Kosi. But the Dark Acolytes subsequently make only sporadic appearances for much of the novel and rarely engage the Titans, so the suspense gradually wanes. There’s plenty left for the second part of Book 2, however, as the vacation is nowhere near completion and the cult’s eventually revealed sinister purposes will be an unmistakable threat.

Though it abandons its initial intensity, this story showcases a welcome union of singular characters.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9911467-5-8

Page Count: 505

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2018

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ONE DAY IN THE LIFE OF IVAN DENISOVICH

While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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