People do a lot of weeping in this book. Maybe that’s meant to compensate for its lack of emotional depth.
Imagine a more benign Brave New World yoked with a short love story from a New Yorker back issue.
Originally published as a digital novel, this collaboration of novelist Adrian (The Great Night, 2011, etc.) and former McSweeney’s publisher Horowitz is an unwieldy hybrid of domestic romance and science fiction speculating on the prospect of immortality through decapitation. (And no, you didn’t misread that.) Jane Cotton, a pediatric surgeon at a New York hospital, is having enough trouble coping with the death of her husband, Jim, a chaplain working at the same hospital. What makes matters worse is finding out that his corpse is missing its head, which has been cryogenically preserved by an enigmatic corporation called Polaris. Through an appropriately icy company spokesman named Brian, who apologizes to Jane for her “perceived loss,” Jane finds out that Jim’s frozen cranium is being preserved and stored for reattachment and restoration at some undetermined date in the distant future. The chapters concerning Jane’s frantic quest for more information, legal redress, and (she hopes) Jim’s head alternate for the most part with chapters that seem to be set in that aforementioned future in which Jim is in a painful struggle of his own as he adjusts to a new physical form while trying to retain whatever memories he has of his previous life. A disembodied voice named Alice tries to get Jim 2.0 to adjust to a world where money, among other things, “hasn’t existed for a while.” It’s possible to interpret Adrian and Horowitz’s gimmick as a scenario for a hypothetical breakthrough in biotechnology, along with its potential ramifications. It’s also possible to interpret this new world as an old-school metaphor for reincarnation and its own hypothetical discontents. But until the book’s latter two sections, which seem to move backward instead of forward in time, you don’t care enough about any of the novel’s characters to even begin considering its ideas.People do a lot of weeping in this book. Maybe that’s meant to compensate for its lack of emotional depth.
Pub Date: May 5, 2015
Page Count: 224
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online: March 31, 2015
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2015
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by Kathy Reichs ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 17, 2020
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
Page Count: 352
Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020
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by Michael Crichton ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 23, 2017
Falls short of Crichton’s many blockbusters, but fun reading nonetheless, especially for those interested in the early days...
In 1876, professor Edward Cope takes a group of students to the unforgiving American West to hunt for dinosaur fossils, and they make a tremendous discovery.
William Jason Tertullius Johnson, son of a shipbuilder and beneficiary of his father’s largess, isn’t doing very well at Yale when he makes a bet with his archrival (because every young man has one): accompany “the bone professor” Othniel Marsh to the West to dig for dinosaur fossils or pony up $1,000, but Marsh will only let Johnson join if he has a skill they can use. They need a photographer, so Johnson throws himself into the grueling task of learning photography, eventually becoming proficient. When Marsh and the team leave without him, he hitches a ride with another celebrated paleontologist, Marsh’s bitter rival, Edward Cope. Despite warnings about Indian activity, into the Judith badlands they go. It’s a harrowing trip: they weather everything from stampeding buffalo to back-breaking work, but it proves to be worth it after they discover the teeth of what looks to be a giant dinosaur, and it could be the discovery of the century if they can only get them back home safely. When the team gets separated while transporting the bones, Johnson finds himself in Deadwood and must find a way to get the bones home—and stay alive doing it. The manuscript for this novel was discovered in Crichton’s (Pirate Latitudes, 2009, etc.) archives by his wife, Sherri, and predates Jurassic Park (1990), but if readers are looking for the same experience, they may be disappointed: it’s strictly formulaic stuff. Famous folk like the Earp brothers make appearances, and Cope and Marsh, and the feud between them, were very real, although Johnson is the author’s own creation. Crichton takes a sympathetic view of American Indians and their plight, and his appreciation of the American West, and its harsh beauty, is obvious.Falls short of Crichton’s many blockbusters, but fun reading nonetheless, especially for those interested in the early days of American paleontology.
Pub Date: May 23, 2017
Page Count: 320
Review Posted Online: March 6, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2017
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