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 years pass by at a fast and steamy clip in Blume’s latest adult novel (Wifey, not reviewed; Smart Women, 1984) as two friends find loyalties and affections tested as they grow into young women. In sixth grade, when Victoria Weaver is asked by new girl Caitlin Somers to spend the summer with her on Martha’s Vineyard, her life changes forever. Victoria, or more commonly Vix, lives in a small house; her brother has muscular dystrophy; her mother is unhappy, and money is scarce. Caitlin, on the other hand, lives part of the year with her wealthy mother Phoebe, who’s just moved to Albuquerque, and summers with her father Lamb, equally affluent, on the Vineyard. The story of how this casual invitation turns the two girls into what they call "Summer sisters" is prefaced with a prologue in which Vix is asked by Caitlin to be her matron of honor. The years in between are related in brief segments by numerous characters, but mostly by Vix. Caitlin, determined never to be ordinary, is always testing the limits, and in adolescence falls hard for Von, an older construction worker, while Vix falls for his friend Bru. Blume knows the way kids and teens speak, but her two female leads are less credible as they reach adulthood. After high school, Caitlin travels the world and can’t understand why Vix, by now at Harvard on a scholarship and determined to have a better life than her mother has had, won’t drop out and join her. Though the wedding briefly revives Vix’s old feelings for Bru, whom Caitlin is marrying, Vix is soon in love with Gus, another old summer friend, and a more compatible match. But Caitlin, whose own demons have been hinted at, will not be so lucky. The dark and light sides of friendship breathlessly explored in a novel best saved for summer beachside reading.

Pub Date: May 8, 1998

ISBN: 0-385-32405-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1998

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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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