A towering work of speculative fiction that will have readers rethinking what it means to be human.



This powerful cautionary tale mixes political satire and legal thrills in a near-future America where the existence of a Neanderthal threatens a government that has devolved into a “trailer park theocracy.”

When jaded Manhattan lawyer Raleigh is hired to represent a suspect accused of murdering a popular rap artist, he understands immediately that the case could interest Homeland Security. His client—nicknamed Blingbling—is described as a “crazy homeless retarded guy”; he has no Social Security number, license or Homeland passport. In a country where Patriot Amendments have been added to the Constitution to radically limit civil liberties and give Homeland Police unlimited jurisdiction over cases concerning national security, Raleigh knows that if Blingbling is involved in any terrorist activity, his own career—and his freedom—could be at stake. But the case becomes exponentially more complicated when a DNA test shows that Blingbling isn’t human: He’s a Neanderthal who, with the few others of his kind, has been secretly living in a “Nest” in an abandoned building in New York’s SoHo district. When, in an attempt to dismiss the case, Raleigh goes public with the revelation, he finds himself at the center of a national firestorm over the theory of evolution. “The mouth-breathers amended the Constitution just one step short of criminalizing modern science and here you go proving evolution,” Raleigh tells Blingbling. The political and social commentary throughout this unique novel is razor-sharp, as are uses of imagery and symbolism. The disturbing contrast of nonviolent, contemplative and deeply compassionate Blingbling to the brutality, apathy and ignorance of modern-day America is profoundly moving. One standout among many is a brilliant sequence in which Raleigh attends a bum fight—“illegal, but illegal the way whiskey was in 1924. And I make my living off the kind of people who in the Coolidge administration would have been meeting trawlers full of booze at midnight on the North Fork. Well, kind of like them. Just worse.”

A towering work of speculative fiction that will have readers rethinking what it means to be human.

Pub Date: May 5, 2014

ISBN: 978-1936196333

Page Count: 200

Publisher: C&R Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2014

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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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More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.


High-stakes weepmeister Sparks (A Walk to Remember, 1999, etc.) opts for a happy ending his fourth time out. His writing has improved—though it's still the equivalent of paint-by-numbers—and he makes use this time of at least a vestige of credible psychology.

That vestige involves the deep dark secret—it has something to do with his father's death when son Taylor was nine—that haunts kind, good 36-year-old local contractor Taylor McAden and makes him withdraw from relationships whenever they start getting serious enough to maybe get permanent. He's done this twice before, and now he does it again with pretty and sweet single mother Denise Holton, age 29, who's moved from Atlanta to Taylor's town of Edenton, North Carolina, in order to devote her time more fully to training her four-year-old son Kyle to overcome the peculiar impediment he has that keeps him from achieving normal language acquisition. Okay? When Denise has a car accident in a bad storm, she's rescued by volunteer fireman Taylor—who also rescues little Kyle after he wanders away from his injured mom in the storm. Love blooms in the weeks that follow—until Taylor suddenly begins putting on the brakes. What is it that holds him back, when there just isn't any question but that he loves Denise and vice versa-not to mention that he's "great" with Kyle, just like a father? It will require a couple of near-death experiences (as fireman Taylor bravely risks his life to save others); emotional steadiness from the intelligent, good, true Denise; and the terrible death of a dear and devoted friend before Taylor will come to the point at last of confiding to Denise the terrible memory of how his father died—and the guilt that's been its legacy to Taylor. The psychological dam broken, love will at last be able to flow.

More Hallmarkiana, from a shameless expert in the genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 19, 2000

ISBN: 0-446-52550-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2000

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