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Girl on the Brink

An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.

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A debut novel shows that abusive relationships can occur in upper-middle-class suburban towns involving victims smart enough to know better.

Conducting an interview for her summer internship, 17-year-old Indian Valley resident Chloe Quinn encounters Kieran Dubrowski for the first time—and thinks he is annoying and intrusive. But Kieran is obviously interested in her. And with her brother and best friend both at camps, her father living with his girlfriend in New York City, and her mother escaping her marital difficulties with prescription medication and alcohol, Chloe not only agrees to go out with Kiernan, but finds his attention flattering. She overlooks his possessiveness—gratified that he is that involved with her—and dismisses his violent temper as an unfortunate result of his broken home. If her other friends seem resentful, she reasons that they are probably just jealous that she has a boyfriend. As Kieran’s behavior grows increasingly erratic, Chloe finally realizes that she needs to end the relationship, but her attempts to distance herself only lead to greater peril. Kieran proves himself to be not just abusive and emotionally disturbed, but also incredibly devious and canny, as he tries to turn the tables on her. Will Chloe break free, restore her battered relationships with friends and family, and regain her self-confidence? Hoag (co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, 2014, etc.) creates teenage characters that are realistic, contemporary adolescents, not the typically idealized innocents. While there are hints of Kieran’s true nature, he is at first a likable character, if a bit narcissistic. Chloe’s vulnerability, due to her father’s physical and mother’s emotional desertions, enhance the reader’s ability to sympathize with her. Although largely a cautionary tale, the novel also contains enough suspense to keep it from becoming preachy. Teens may read it for the story, belatedly realizing that they’ve learned a lesson.

An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Melange Books - Fire and Ice

Review Posted Online: Aug. 8, 2016

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DEVOLUTION

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

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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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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

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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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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