Rice fans probably need not fear a drought of her thirst-quenching tales, then. As for this one, it’s trademark Rice: talky,...

PRINCE LESTAT

THE VAMPIRE CHRONICLES

From the The Vampire Chronicles series

Armand, Seth, Akasha and, of course, Lestat de Lioncourt are back with a vengeance—and, natch, they’re looking to put the bite on someone.

There was a time, not so long ago, when Lestat fans had reason to fear they’d seen the last of their—well, man, maybe, depending on how you define “man.” After an 11-year dry spell since Blood Canticle(2003), though, Rice has resurrected her Vampire Chronicles, picking up where one of the earlier books, The Queen of the Damned(1988), left off. A lot’s happened since that time. For one thing, the vamps have plenty of new technology to play with, with Lestat himself, the rock star manqué, in love with his iPod and with that undead popster Jon Bon Jovi, “playing his songs over and over obsessively.” That adulation is about the most frightening thing in Rice’s latest; it’s not that the novel is without its spine-tingling moments so much as that Rice has prepared the ground too well, with not just her own legacy, but also a legion of lesser imitators (Charlaine Harris, Stephenie Meyer, et al.) competing with her on the sanguinary-moments front. The latest installment finds the vamps at war with themselves, crowded on a planet with plenty of competition, indeed, but with plenty of juicy humans to nibble on: “So rich, so healthy, so filled with exotic flavors, so different from blood in the time he’d been made.” Rice extends the Chronicles even farther into the past, rounding out storylines stretching into ancient Egypt, while reintroducing a large cast of familiars and adding some new characters to the mix. Suffice it to say, first, that the vamps are no longer limiting their recruitment to liberal arts majors, to the poets and singers of yore; suffice it also to say that the busy intergenerational (and inter–planes of existence) conflict that ensues screams out for at least one sequel, if not a string of them. 

Rice fans probably need not fear a drought of her thirst-quenching tales, then. As for this one, it’s trademark Rice: talky, inconsequential, but good old-fashioned fanged fun.

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-307-96252-2

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2014

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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