A unique, if uneven, version of a holiday fixture.

A Digital Carol – A Tale for Our Generation

Writer’s (Tragic Wonders, 2013, etc.) novella reimagines Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol as a cautionary sci-fi tale.

In this 21st century recasting of the classic story, E. Ben Ezer fills the role of the iconic Ebenezer Scrooge. He’s a callous businessman in the not-too-distant future, who, in his quest for wealth, has replaced almost his entire staff with a sophisticated autonomous computer network. Ezer’s greed extends far beyond mere wealth, however; he’s looking to transcend his current position and become something of a godlike figure. While working late one night, Ezer confronts the image of his former business partner emanating from his computer screen. Unfazed, Ezer decides to try out his company’s experimental virtual reality suit, and the apparition soon leads him through his past, present and future. Writer’s version of Dickens’ tale doesn’t stray too far from the original’s framework; versions of all of Dickens’ characters are present, and the moral remains fundamentally the same, although expanded to encompass concerns regarding artificial intelligence and virtual reality. Writer’s Carol is noticeably darker, though: His version of Ebenezer goes beyond a mere greedy curmudgeon to a man who’s capable of consciously corrupting the worldwide economy. Furthermore, the apparition (or “the entity,” as Writer refers to it) shows Ezer a distressing future in which his creations have systematically destroyed all of humanity. Aside from this tonal shift, the most significant change is the story’s resolution, which far exceeds a simple change of heart. Writer’s interpretation is an intriguing retelling, as it does much more than merely change the classic tale’s setting and style. Unfortunately, its brevity and its adherence to the original’s classic structure inhibit Writer from fully exploring his notions, and the prose often falls flat. Vivid images sometimes appear, as when Ezer imagines the flickers of computer screens casting “agonized shadows around the room [that] continued their accusatory dance”; more often, however, the narration feels stilted and overwrought (“Through the Word the Great Physician cleared out from his heart and mind, futile thoughts, errant goals and abusive attitudes”). The result is a sometimes strange mixture of paranoid sci-fi and traditional religious morality.

A unique, if uneven, version of a holiday fixture.

Pub Date: Nov. 19, 2014

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 90

Publisher: Mandated Memoranda Publishing, LLC.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2014

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Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of...

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IT ENDS WITH US

Hoover’s (November 9, 2015, etc.) latest tackles the difficult subject of domestic violence with romantic tenderness and emotional heft.

At first glance, the couple is edgy but cute: Lily Bloom runs a flower shop for people who hate flowers; Ryle Kincaid is a surgeon who says he never wants to get married or have kids. They meet on a rooftop in Boston on the night Ryle loses a patient and Lily attends her abusive father’s funeral. The provocative opening takes a dark turn when Lily receives a warning about Ryle’s intentions from his sister, who becomes Lily’s employee and close friend. Lily swears she’ll never end up in another abusive home, but when Ryle starts to show all the same warning signs that her mother ignored, Lily learns just how hard it is to say goodbye. When Ryle is not in the throes of a jealous rage, his redeeming qualities return, and Lily can justify his behavior: “I think we needed what happened on the stairwell to happen so that I would know his past and we’d be able to work on it together,” she tells herself. Lily marries Ryle hoping the good will outweigh the bad, and the mother-daughter dynamics evolve beautifully as Lily reflects on her childhood with fresh eyes. Diary entries fancifully addressed to TV host Ellen DeGeneres serve as flashbacks to Lily’s teenage years, when she met her first love, Atlas Corrigan, a homeless boy she found squatting in a neighbor’s house. When Atlas turns up in Boston, now a successful chef, he begs Lily to leave Ryle. Despite the better option right in front of her, an unexpected complication forces Lily to cut ties with Atlas, confront Ryle, and try to end the cycle of abuse before it’s too late. The relationships are portrayed with compassion and honesty, and the author’s note at the end that explains Hoover’s personal connection to the subject matter is a must-read.

Packed with riveting drama and painful truths, this book powerfully illustrates the devastation of abuse—and the strength of the survivors.

Pub Date: Aug. 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5011-1036-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 31, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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