NECESSARY PEOPLE

Deceptively nuanced, and impossible to put down, this is escapism with substance.

A pair of college best friends—one born with everything; the other starting from nothing—become post-college rivals, intent on success no matter the cost.

Stella Bradley is rich and blonde and beautiful, a monied Manhattanite, irresponsible and razor-sharp. Violet Trapp is a hardworking kid from Florida with no money and no family support. Their connection is instant. “It wasn’t that my personality changed when I met Stella,” Violet reflects. “It was that it became….I didn’t just want the friendship of this dazzling girl. I wanted the world that had made her so dazzling in the first place.” Violet is determined to overcome her own roots; by studying the Bradleys, she imagines, she might become one of them. After college, Stella flits across the globe, and Violet, the “responsible one,” stays in New York—living in the Bradleys' apartment, intended for Stella—gets an internship in cable news, falls in love with the job, is promoted, and then is promoted again. She excels in production, behind the scenes, cultivating sources, engrossed in the work. When Stella returns, though, the relationship can’t quite pick up as before: Violet has an identity now, separate from Stella; the power between them has shifted. And then Stella pulls a few strings—family connections, natural charm—and begins encroaching on Violet’s new turf. She, too, gets a job at the network and begins climbing the ranks. And her newfound ambitions are not behind the scenes but in front of the camera, once again eclipsing Violet, restoring the balance between them: invisible, hardworking, talented Violet and Stella, the star. But this time, Violet is fighting back—by any means necessary. If the pivotal event of the book—and its sinister aftermath—seems slightly far-fetched given the relative grounding of the first two-thirds of the novel, who cares? It’s a trivial quibble given the sheer pleasure of reading this book. Pitoniak (The Futures, 2017) is an astute social observer, and the novel—a literary thriller about class aspiration and young female ambition—is a twisting delight with a haunting punch.

Deceptively nuanced, and impossible to put down, this is escapism with substance.

Pub Date: May 21, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-45170-3

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Jan. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 123


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 123


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Close Quickview