Innovative sci-fi with plenty of substance, even if it’s weighed down by some confusing sequences.


In Greenleaf’s sci-fi actioner debut, a monk with special powers heads to outer space to save a colony from destruction.

Eamon, an Akuru monk, lives in a temple sealed off from the rest of the world by a security barrier. He is a gifted healer whose empathic abilities enable him to connect to other people’s minds and manipulate their memories. He’s the best at what he does, but being cloistered on a mountaintop his whole life has made him long to see other worlds. Excitement arrives in the form of agent Rachel Blue, an assassin who was presumed dead but showed up alive on a space station. Hostile and traumatized, Rachel needs Eamon’s help, but there’s some concern that attempts to heal her may cause damage to Eamon’s genetically modified nervous system. Additionally, attacks on outer space birthing centers have been decimating the number of empaths, and the temple’s future is now in doubt. Hoping to put a stop to the hostilities and to help Rachel, Eamon decides to heal her. The process has unintended consequences, however, and Eamon soon realizes that Rachel is now determined to destroy an enemy as well as an entire colony of innocent souls. Stripped of his healing duties and facing consequences for the botched healing, Eamon escapes the temple and heads to the Europa moon to prevent Rachel from carrying out her murderous objective. Greenleaf handily succeeds in creating a new universe. A few familiar things on Earth, such as mountaintop Sherpas, live in a world wholly different from our own, with futuristic takes on genetic engineering providing support for an action plot that rarely slows down. The novel has a wealth of terminology, acronyms, and abbreviations that can test the memory, and the narrative is at times somewhat confusing and hard to follow. Still, Greenleaf’s novel is ambitious and daring. The worlds on display are unique, and the journeys into other people’s minds are as interesting as any external occurrences. The overall humanness of Eamon, and even Rachel, is what eventually grounds the wild narrative’s chaos.

Innovative sci-fi with plenty of substance, even if it’s weighed down by some confusing sequences.

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9848321-4-9

Page Count: 376

Publisher: Freeman Park Publishing

Review Posted Online: Aug. 2, 2015

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

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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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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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