Despite sometimes trying a little too hard: frothy, sassy entertainment.

THE AMPHORA PROJECT

Science fiction with a humorous bent, and the first adult novel in over a decade from the author of The Game of Thirty (1994, etc).

Hidden inside Junk Moon, a riotous cosmic scrap heap where dead spaceships go, lie the tunnels, machines, scientists and robots of the Amphora Project. Overseen in deadly secret by the Consortium, using technology adapted from the vanished, god-like Ancient Aliens, creatures who also made the hyperspace Corridor that allows navigation from star to star, Amphora’s purpose is human immortality. Wisecracking space pirate Jockey Oldcastle gets wind of the project and invites some friends along to investigate: Jockey’s scaly sidekick, Lizardo, inoffensive insect expert Adrian Link and his robot assistant, Upquark, and gorgeous alien singer Ren Ixen. Ren likes Adrian, but Adrian just drones on about his beloved insects: Incapable of forming human relationships, he intuitively understands insect behavior and communications. Using stolen plans to gain entry to the tunnels, Jockey and company force one of the scientists to demonstrate the equipment; unfortunately, the scientist turns into crystal. Jockey, Adrian and the rest flee in various directions, pursued by agents of the Autonomous Observer. But now all sorts of people on the moon are also turning to crystal, including the entire Consortium. The Observer’s challenge is to stop the crystallization process before it engulfs everyone. Adrian’s intuition tells him that neither the project nor its machinery are responsible; instead, blind insect-like aliens from another dimension surreptitiously guided Amphora’s creation so that they can invade our dimension and steal our energy. Can Adrian and friends respond in time?

Despite sometimes trying a little too hard: frothy, sassy entertainment.

Pub Date: Oct. 10, 2005

ISBN: 0-8021-1803-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Grove

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2005

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This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

THINGS FALL APART

Written with quiet dignity that builds to a climax of tragic force, this book about the dissolution of an African tribe, its traditions, and values, represents a welcome departure from the familiar "Me, white brother" genre.

Written by a Nigerian African trained in missionary schools, this novel tells quietly the story of a brave man, Okonkwo, whose life has absolute validity in terms of his culture, and who exercises his prerogative as a warrior, father, and husband with unflinching single mindedness. But into the complex Nigerian village filters the teachings of strangers, teachings so alien to the tribe, that resistance is impossible. One must distinguish a force to be able to oppose it, and to most, the talk of Christian salvation is no more than the babbling of incoherent children. Still, with his guns and persistence, the white man, amoeba-like, gradually absorbs the native culture and in despair, Okonkwo, unable to withstand the corrosion of what he, alone, understands to be the life force of his people, hangs himself. In the formlessness of the dying culture, it is the missionary who takes note of the event, reminding himself to give Okonkwo's gesture a line or two in his work, The Pacification of the Primitive Tribes of the Lower Niger.

This book sings with the terrible silence of dead civilizations in which once there was valor.

Pub Date: Jan. 23, 1958

ISBN: 0385474547

Page Count: 207

Publisher: McDowell, Obolensky

Review Posted Online: April 23, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1958

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Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

THE WINTER GUEST

An 18-year-old Polish girl falls in love, swoons over a first kiss, dreams of marriage—and, oh yes, we are in the middle of the Holocaust.

Jenoff (The Ambassador’s Daughter, 2013, etc.) weaves a tale of fevered teenage love in a time of horrors in the early 1940s, as the Nazis invade Poland and herd Jews into ghettos and concentration camps. A prologue set in 2013, narrated by a resident of the Westchester Senior Center, provides an intriguing setup. A woman and a policeman visit the resident and ask if she came from a small Polish village. Their purpose is unclear until they mention bones recently found there: “And we think you might know something about them.” The book proceeds in the third person, told from the points of view mostly of teenage Helena, who comes upon an injured young Jewish-American soldier, and sometimes of her twin, Ruth, who is not as adventurous as Helena but is very competitive with her. Their father is dead, their mother is dying in a hospital, and they are raising their three younger siblings amid danger and hardship. The romance between Helena and Sam, the soldier, is often conveyed in overheated language that doesn’t sit well with the era’s tragic events: “There had been an intensity to his embrace that said he was barely able to contain himself, that he also wanted more.” Jenoff, clearly on the side of tolerance, slips in a simplified historical framework for the uninformed. But she also feeds stereotypes, having Helena note that Sam has “a slight arch to his nose” and a dark complexion that “would make him suspect as a Jew immediately.” Clichés also pop up during the increasingly complex plot: “But even if they stood in place, the world around them would not.”

Romance and melodrama mix uneasily with mass murder.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-7783-1596-4

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Harlequin MIRA

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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