A fast-paced popcorn space opera with occasional hints of depth—easily digestible like its predecessor.

THE TINKER AND THE FOLD

PART TWO: THE RISE OF THE BOE

An adolescent inventor tries to rescue his brother from a power-mad alien, while Earth faces a controlled existence as a member of a galactic association.  

In this sequel, the Gordons (The Tinker and The Fold, 2015), a father-and-son YA sci-fi writing team, continue the breathless antics of the Javelins, a California household of scientific and alpha types in 2030. Jett Javelin Jr., aka “the Tinker,” became the most famous kid on Earth for creating the “quantum swapper,” a teleportation device that gained humanity an enrollment in The Fold, a co-op of thousands of spacefaring worlds. The dwarfish, officious Aaptuuans, who oversee The Fold, enforce its strict codes against violence and killing (the basis for the biblical Ten Commandments). Because Jett Javelin Sr. was a Gulf War veteran, he joins millions of human “murderers” exiled for reconditioning on Pluto. Jett Jr., in a rescue-mission attempt using the quantum swapper, accidentally scrambles his subatomic structure. Result: he acquires shape-shifting powers. His twin brother, Jack, is taken prisoner by the treacherous Hazborg, a reptile-eel monster. The Aaptuuans believed they had reformed the creature, but, with stolen technology, he masquerades as a god among the Boe, a primitive primate/feline tribe he plans to make into an empire. The Aaptuuans’ nonviolent solution sends super-charged Jett Jr. (plus a girlfriend and an AI) to the planet as a rival god to dethrone the villain. Amid the high-speed stuff is the back story of Earth’s conformity to Fold values, ready or not. Ethics, peace, and a vegan diet are coerced by the aliens—sometimes using methods of behavioral control not unlike those in A Clockwork Orange. A reader has a queasy feeling the authors don’t exactly object (well, Robert A. Heinlein preached some peculiar sermons, too), and this intriguing plot thread finally intersects with the frothier one in the cliffhanger ending. At one point, there’s a quick (nothing in the narrative moves slowly) pop-culture reference contrasting two Hollywood director-fantasists: action addict Michael Bay and the more thoughtful and complicated J.J. Abrams. The saga itself seems torn between which role model to follow—big ideas or just snazzy FX? But the nimble style is disarming enough to curb cynicism about the elastic science and Tom Swift-on-microchips tone. The sense of humor keeps things more in a comedic orbit than a mission of gravity.

A fast-paced popcorn space opera with occasional hints of depth—easily digestible like its predecessor.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9963574-5-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2017

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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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A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.

THE CHASE

From the Briar U series

In this opener to Kennedy’s (Hot & Bothered, 2017, etc.) Briar U romance series, two likable students keep getting their signals crossed.

Twenty-one-year-old Summer Heyward-Di Laurentis is expelled from Brown University in the middle of her junior year because she was responsible for a fire at the Kappa Beta Nu sorority house. Fortunately, her father has connections, so she’s now enrolled in Briar University, a prestigious institution about an hour outside Boston. But as she’s about to move into Briar’s Kappa Beta Nu house, she’s asked to leave by the sisters, who don’t want her besmirching their reputation. Her older brother Dean, who’s a former Briar hockey star, comes to her rescue; his buddies, who are still on the hockey team, need a fourth roommate for their townhouse. Three good-looking hockey jocks and a very rich, gorgeous fashion major under the same roof—what could go wrong? Summer becomes quickly infatuated with one of her housemates: Dean’s best friend Colin “Fitzy” Fitzgerald. There’s a definite spark between them, and they exchange smoldering looks, but the tattooed Fitzy, who’s also a video game reviewer and designer, is an introvert who prefers no “drama” in his life. Summer, however, is a charming extrovert, although she has an inferiority complex about her flagging scholastic acumen. As the story goes on, the pair seem to misinterpret each other’s every move. Meanwhile, another roommate and potential suitor, Hunter Davenport, is waiting in the wings. Kennedy’s novel is full of sex, alcohol, and college-level profanity, but it never becomes formulaic. The author adroitly employs snappy dialogue, steady pacing, and humor, as in a scene at a runway fashion show featuring Briar jocks parading in Summer-designed swimwear. The book also manages to touch on some serious subjects, including learning disabilities and abusive behavior by faculty members. Summer and Fitzy’s repeated stumbles propel the plot through engaging twists and turns; the characters trade off narrating the story, which gives each of them a chance to reveal some substance.

A steamy, glitzy, and tender tale of college intrigue.    

Pub Date: Aug. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-72482-199-7

Page Count: 372

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Jan. 28, 2019

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