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



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

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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.


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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