A creepily convincing depiction of the marriage of corporate power and celebrity worship.

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In Galvin’s future-fiction novel, everyone’s value is determined by how much corporations bid for them.

Sasha Cross, the look-alike daughter of a famous deceased actor, faces an unpleasant situation as she comes of age in a dystopian future. “I’m about to turn twenty-two,” she says, “yet I have no say in what happens to me.” At 22, citizens are auctioned off to corporate entities who will pay retirement benefits to their parents while reaping 25% of their lifelong income. People are ranked—the elite A’s, professional B’s, middle-class C’s, and laborer D’s. Ambitious parents become “asset managers” as they try to maximize their children’s potential earnings in order to ensure their own security. As Sasha tries to negotiate a future where she can find some meaning outside the artificial glamour of Los Angeles celebrity, she struggles to avoid being exploited by those seeking to profit from her resemblance to her adored mother, including her social-climbing friend Brianna and even her own father, who forces her to participate in a reality show about her auction experience. One of her only supporters is her childhood friend Jason, a prominent video game basketball star. Jason, however, faces his own demons in the form of alcoholism and his relationship with a felon who is determined to drag Jason into his illegal schemes. Galvin’s dystopian vision of a celebrity-obsessed society isn’t new, but it’s exceptionally well realized. Thoughtful social critique, romance, friendship, and family dysfunction play out among a complex cast of characters. Other pluses include a taut storyline of corporate ruthlessness versus grassroots resistance and fantastic SF imaginings—from the wholesale insertion of tracking chips to a massive underground system of organ harvesting.  

A creepily convincing depiction of the marriage of corporate power and celebrity worship.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73751-500-5

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Drexel Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021


Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Jack Ryan Jr. is back to risk life and limb in saving a teenage girl from international killers while his father, U.S. President Jack Ryan Sr., figures out what to do with Iran’s clandestine uranium enrichment facility, hidden in a mine.

Junior, head of the secret intelligence outfit The Campus, which was functionally wiped out in Tom Clancy Flash Point (2023), is heading across Texas to a rendezvous with his fiancee, Lisanne Robertson, a one-armed former Marine and cop. He’s waylaid by the aftermath of a multi-vehicle accident that he discovers resulted from a gun attack that left a driver hanging on for life, and now puts Jack in the crosshairs of the gunmen. A tip leads him to a 4 a.m. meeting with Amanda, a single mom whose impetuous daughter, Bella, has run off with her highly undesirable boyfriend only to be abducted by the baddies. the nation’s capital, American surveillance has determined that Iran is on the cusp of nuclear armament. The only way to stop them is unleashing an unpiloted and untested super plane with massive destructive power. The book’s treatment of Iran’s “existential threat to the entire globe” as a subplot is rather curious, to say the least. You keep waiting for Bentley to connect the two stories, but that happens only superficially. Late in the book, we are told as an afterthought that Iran’s immediate threat had been “mitigated.” Unfortunately, there is no mitigation of the novel’s hackneyed prose—"The analytical portion of Jack’s brain couldn’t help but be impressed.”

Lots of violent action with little payoff.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593422816

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: Aug. 12, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2023


A worthy addition to an entertaining series.

Danger abounds in the 20th ocean adventure in Cussler’s NUMA Files series.

Kurt Austin and Joe Zavala “find trouble the way a prize bloodhound finds a scent,” and this time they find it in the seas near Nassau. There, the National Underwater and Marine Agency training ship Edison responds to a mayday call from the MV Heron saying that they're under attack. The ship at first appears to be empty, but once the rescuers explore inside, a group of crazed men attacks them. The crazies are victims of Martin Colon, formerly of Cuban Intelligence and now VP of Ostrom Airship Corporation. The guy’s a bad dude with a serious grudge against the United States. He and his henchmen have injected the Heron’s crew with tiny microchips, electromagnetic sensors half the size of an average grain of pollen. If you get jabbed with this, your brain imprints and blindly obeys the first voice you hear. And if you’re told to kill your friends, you’ll kill them if you can. So now that Colon has successfully tested the weapon on individuals, he’s ready to go big time. And what better device for spreading the dust-sized chips in the billions than to disperse them from his luxury airship the Condor? It’s as big as an ocean liner and lifts with helium, so no fair comparing it to the hydrogen-hindered Hindenburg. Imagine a craft larger than the Empire State Building that lands “as soft as a feather.” Indeed, it’s “a world-class ocean liner plowing the skies.” NUMA sends people to inspect the Condor on the pretext that they might want to purchase a similar airship. To put it mildly, exciting action ensues. Can the NUMA crew head off a psyops attack that would cause mass madness and chaos? Though readers can guess the answer, they’ll enjoy seeing the heroes at work in this fast-moving yarn.

A worthy addition to an entertaining series.

Pub Date: Sept. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9780593543979

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: July 13, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2023

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