A complex tale of cosmic evil featuring a glamorous, well-developed ensemble.

THE AWAKENING

FATE IN MOTION

In Boisvert’s debut sci-fi novel, the first in a trilogy, three people with type-A personalities experience strange enlightenments.

Lanie Montrose is a pop-music superstar with a troubled personal life, known as much for her recreational drug use as for her talent. She’s trying to get clean, but when she overdoses at a party under suspicious circumstances, she’s taken to a clinic in Malibu, California. Soon afterward, Suki Carter, Lanie’s therapist, meets a woman named Becca on the street whom she met at the same party; Becca hands Suki a data stick before she’s killed in front of the therapist in a hit-and-run. Meanwhile, Suki’s childhood friend James Sinclair, a Scottish-born paranormalist and “conspiracy investigator” for the CIA, is tending to his dying mother; he’d long been skeptical of her lifelong ravings about aliens and Knights Templar, but then he sees a strange vision that changes his mind. It’s later revealed that the three main characters have mystical and genetic connections that go back millennia; they’re part of a mass “awakening” going on all over the world as praying mantis–like aliens start mobilizing operatives to prepare for the return of an ancient, evil space being. It turns out that James, Suki, and especially Lanie are key to Earth’s defense against the onslaught. Boisvert drops Danielle Steel–like characters into a New Age–y sci-fi/fantasy plot. Surprisingly, given the planetary stakes, she focuses tightly on her small cast, acutely analyzing the trio’s emotional states as they gradually acclimate to their amazing destinies. She does this so well, in fact, that readers likely won’t wonder too much about whether Lanie is supposed to be Madonna, Britney Spears, or Katy Perry. However, other subplots—about a 9/11–type attack, a pioneering Mars mission, and all the other humans “awakening” to their superpowers—end up being shunted to the margins. More of these details, though, may be forthcoming in future volumes, following this one’s cliffhanger finale.

A complex tale of cosmic evil featuring a glamorous, well-developed ensemble.

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-71982-893-2

Page Count: 436

Publisher: Time Tunnel Media

Review Posted Online: Oct. 9, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize
    winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

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

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 38

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • 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