Engrossing. For a novel that is as much parable as it is thriller, its impact is surprisingly emotional.

COLD SKIN

Published in Barcelona in 2002 and translated into 15 languages, this debut novel is a kind of Robinson Crusoe seen through dark glass.

Sometime after WWI, the young, unnamed narrator takes up an unlikely post. It’s the kind with appeal only for those who are embittered, angry and more than a little masochistic—all of which apply. He’s to serve a year on an uninhabited island somewhere in the Antarctic Circle, as the weatherman for a company that has an inexplicable—or at least unexplained—need for such a person. The island is not quite a mile long. Ships don’t go there. No friendly Friday type has ever gone there, and, at first, it seems as if the previous weatherman—the one about to be relieved—hasn’t gone there either. No trace of him in the cottage assigned to him as home, no trace of him in the forests surrounding the cottage, no trace of him anywhere. Instead, in the fortress-like, stone-constructed lighthouse, there is Gruner—German, gloomy, unwelcoming and beset. By whom? Or rather, by what? The answer to that soon becomes chillingly clear when our weatherman finds himself facing the onslaught of the mysterious, deeply enigmatic Sitauca—the humanoid horde that storms the lighthouse relentlessly. Indigenous to the island and seemingly hostile in the extreme, the Sitauca force the weatherman and Gruner into a partnership for survival. But what will happen to it when the bullets are gone? And what will be the fate of Aneris, the inscrutable female of the Sitauca species, whose siren-like lure to both men is irresistible?

Engrossing. For a novel that is as much parable as it is thriller, its impact is surprisingly emotional.

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2005

ISBN: 0-374-18239-6

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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