A work of surprising depth even as it delivers the powerful chills and thrills readers expect from a battle with formidable...

Emergence

Brand provides a dark tale about a war veteran in this debut sci-fi thriller.

Capt. Alan Wickey is having a bad enough time to begin with. He’s come home from Afghanistan, where he served in the Canadian army. But he hasn’t been able to shake off everything he endured there, no matter how far removed his Vancouver family life is from the danger-filled market squares and unavoidable roadside bombs he still sees in his memory. Sadly, his struggles with post-traumatic stress disorder, alcoholism, brain injury, and guilt have all but driven his wife, Karen, and son, Teddy, away from him entirely. Alan fights a losing battle with his own mind and vices—and that’s before things get really strange. While in the middle of a particularly foolish, drunken mistake at the edge of Vancouver’s lush wilderness, he’s attacked by something unimaginable and left for dead. He barely survives the run-in with Sentrous, a hunter and part of a tribe of missing link–like creatures who’ve lived out of humanity’s sight for millennia, preying on those least likely to be missed. But just as with his wartime trauma, Alan cannot simply accept his own survival and move on. Instead, he feels driven by the threat, or the challenge. He rallies what troops he can, in the form of the war buddies who, unlike everyone else, believe his story and are willing to pursue peace through superior firepower. Alan, however, doesn’t realize just what going back to war will jeopardize, as the cycle of violence and response puts the people he cares most about at risk and threatens to become a disaster bigger than anyone is prepared for. “When two competing species are both subjected to extreme environmental pressure, a few things can happen.” This line opens the intriguing story proper and speaks to the adventures and complications to come, as the plot ranges from a cat-and-mouse game to a desperate fight for survival. Not only that, but the complex novel blends genres as well, mixing war stories (both during and post-combat) and sci-fi action. Along with a fast pace, dynamic characters, and engaging writing, it’s a very compelling mix.

A work of surprising depth even as it delivers the powerful chills and thrills readers expect from a battle with formidable creatures. 

Pub Date: March 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5031-3778-3

Page Count: 316

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 17, 2016

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Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the...

FLY AWAY

Hannah’s sequel to Firefly Lane (2008) demonstrates that those who ignore family history are often condemned to repeat it.

When we last left Kate and Tully, the best friends portrayed in Firefly Lane, the friendship was on rocky ground. Now Kate has died of cancer, and Tully, whose once-stellar TV talk show career is in free fall, is wracked with guilt over her failure to be there for Kate until her very last days. Kate’s death has cemented the distrust between her husband, Johnny, and daughter Marah, who expresses her grief by cutting herself and dropping out of college to hang out with goth poet Paxton. Told mostly in flashbacks by Tully, Johnny, Marah and Tully’s long-estranged mother, Dorothy, aka Cloud, the story piles up disasters like the derailment of a high-speed train. Increasingly addicted to prescription sedatives and alcohol, Tully crashes her car and now hovers near death, attended by Kate’s spirit, as the other characters gather to see what their shortsightedness has wrought. We learn that Tully had tried to parent Marah after her father no longer could. Her hard-drinking decline was triggered by Johnny’s anger at her for keeping Marah and Paxton’s liaison secret. Johnny realizes that he only exacerbated Marah’s depression by uprooting the family from their Seattle home. Unexpectedly, Cloud, who rebuffed Tully’s every attempt to reconcile, also appears at her daughter’s bedside. Sixty-nine years old and finally sober, Cloud details for the first time the abusive childhood, complete with commitments to mental hospitals and electroshock treatments, that led to her life as a junkie lowlife and punching bag for trailer-trash men. Although powerful, Cloud’s largely peripheral story deflects focus away from the main conflict, as if Hannah was loath to tackle the intractable thicket in which she mired her main characters.

Unrelenting gloom relieved only occasionally by wrenching trauma; somehow, though, Hannah’s storytelling chops keep the pages turning even as readers begin to resent being drawn into this masochistic morass.

Pub Date: April 23, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-57721-6

Page Count: 416

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Feb. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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THE COLDEST WINTER EVER

Debut novel by hip-hop rap artist Sister Souljah, whose No Disrespect (1994), which mixes sexual history with political diatribe, is popular in schools country-wide. In its way, this is a tour de force of black English and underworld slang, as finely tuned to its heroine’s voice as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. The subject matter, though, has a certain flashiness, like a black Godfather family saga, and the heroine’s eventual fall develops only glancingly from her character. Born to a 14-year-old mother during one of New York’s worst snowstorms, Winter Santiaga is the teenaged daughter of Ricky Santiaga, Brooklyn’s top drug dealer, who lives like an Arab prince and treats his wife and four daughters like a queen and her princesses. Winter lost her virginity at 12 and now focuses unwaveringly on varieties of adolescent self-indulgence: sex and sugar-daddies, clothes, and getting her own way. She uses school only as a stepping-stone for getting out of the house—after all, nobody’s paying her to go there. But if there’s no money in it, why go? Meanwhile, Daddy decides it’s time to move out of Brooklyn to truly fancy digs on Long Island, though this places him in the discomfiting position of not being absolutely hands-on with his dealers; and sure enough the rise of some young Turks leads to his arrest. Then he does something really stupid: he murders his wife’s two weak brothers in jail with him on Riker’s Island and gets two consecutive life sentences. Winter’s then on her own, especially with Bullet, who may have replaced her dad as top hood, though when she selfishly fails to help her pregnant buddy Simone, there’s worse—much worse—to come. Thinness aside: riveting stuff, with language so frank it curls your hair. (Author tour)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-671-02578-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1999

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