An often mesmerizing end-of-the-world adventure.


In this debut novel set in a post-apocalyptic future, a young woman struggles to uncover the truth about her heritage.

A woman named Root remembers how she always felt different from the other people in her village. She was the blind daughter of a “weaver”—a revered village herbalist and wise woman—and she had a penchant for asking unwanted questions. According to village beliefs, to break from tradition and attempt to “remake the World That Is” would have devastating results. Many suspect that Root had a strange illness known as “the Nothing” within her—a condition that could eventually cause a person to transform into a savage, bestial “chimera.” To prevent this transformation, those thought to suffer from the Nothing were given a sedative drink and then burned alive in the Goodafter Pit. Root was 17 when she started hearing a voice in her head and soon gained extraordinary abilities. Her resulting flight set her on a path to discovering the true origins of the World That Is, which centers on a cataclysmic event known as the Reckoning. Crafty surprises abound in this debut novel as Giesler’s story switches between Root’s narration of the story of her life, framed as a presentation to a gathering of listeners, and the journal of her ancestor Ruth Troyer, who was alive during the initial days of the Reckoning. Giesler does an excellent job of connecting Root’s modern perspective and Ruth’s past knowledge to the rustic setting of the reconstructed civilization. The author also pays close attention to the development of language, religion, and cultural ceremonies across the centuries, resulting in some phenomenal worldbuilding. Root is a feisty, compelling narrator, and although some of her folksy asides are occasionally awkward, her monologue is full of appealing personality.

An often mesmerizing end-of-the-world adventure.

Pub Date: June 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73356-761-9

Page Count: 552

Publisher: Humble Quill LLC

Review Posted Online: May 21, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 15

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2015

  • Kirkus Prize
  • Kirkus Prize

  • National Book Award Finalist


Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

Did you like this book?


A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

Did you like this book?