An atypical time-travel story as dense as it is fascinating.

READ REVIEW

TIME FRAMED

Two members of a family—from different time periods—use psychic abilities to manipulate past events but with conflicting purposes in Chiocchi’s (Baby Boomer Bust?, 2010, etc.) sci-fi tale.

There’s a curse in the Pennfield family. Certainly, college professor Chris believes so, partially blaming his alcoholism and philandering ways on a ghost’s centurieslong vendetta against the Pennfields. In 2007, he writes a letter for future descendants, warning them of the curse and convincing Jimmy Mashimoto-Pennfield in 2052 that he himself is cursed. Chris and Jimmy, like other Pennfield men throughout the years, have experienced “unexplained psychic incidents,” namely seeing apparitions. Chris, however, uses his psychic ability to peek back at 1963, looking for a way to explain his relative’s—then–7-year-old Shippy—catatonic state and consequent institutionalization. Chris surmises it’s curse-related. Jimmy has a similar idea, only he hopes to alter the past to keep Shippy out of the sanatorium, theorizing that Shippy will be cursed later, which will, theoretically, reset events and allow Jimmy to save his own skin. Chris’ vivid dream afterward shows him the altered past, and believing Shippy is now unquestionably cursed, he returns to ’63 to undo the change. He and his scientist pals, rightly presuming they’re up against a future Pennfield, may soon have to rescue Shippy from a fate worse than institutionalization. The novel is just as complicated as it sounds, but the author ably leads readers through the multiple storylines. He structures the narrative using two time periods—Chris in 2007 and Jimmy in 2052—generating an unhurried but absorbing pace. Jimmy’s selfish motive makes him an unequivocal villain, but there are a few twists, including a surprise relationship and curious backdrops, like the future world ruled by a series of “virtual governments.” Each time Shippy’s fate changes, the plot is harder to follow, but explanations and subsequent resolutions are logical.

An atypical time-travel story as dense as it is fascinating.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 647

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: June 11, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • IndieBound Bestseller

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

Did you like this book?

more