A rumination on modern happiness that rewards patient readers in the end.

HAPPY FOR YOU

A woman in tech grapples with doubts about her profession, relationship, and family while working on a project that aims to quantify happiness.

Evelyn Kominsky Kumamoto is 31 when she takes a leave of absence from her philosophy Ph.D. program to work at “the third-most-popular internet company,” where she and two co-workers are asked to develop a prototype for the self-assessment of happiness. From Evelyn’s perspective, everyone around her is better than her at being happy, from her loving boyfriend, Jamie, to her trend-forecasting college best friend, Sharky, to her father, who has his first serious girlfriend since Evelyn’s mother died almost 20 years ago. Evelyn’s mother was White and Jewish, and her father is Japanese, as is Kumiko, his girlfriend, and Evelyn’s biracial identity informs her thoughts and interactions throughout the novel. Evelyn is dogged by ambivalence in every aspect of her life, and her uncertainty raises doubts in her new boss, Dr. Luce, who unfailingly believes in the happiness project. Her vacillations come to a head when Jamie asks her to marry him—she responds, “I don’t know.” While Evelyn is considering Jamie’s proposal, she gets pregnant and, after much thought, decides to keep the baby. Punctuating these events are questions from JOYFULL, the happiness-monitoring app that Evelyn’s team helped create. The app’s questions are suspiciously specific, creating a Greek chorus–like effect that prompts Evelyn to reflect on her relationship with her parents, her career, and what it means, or would mean, for her to be happy. Evelyn’s constant ambivalence about every aspect of her life is frustrating, and she can feel like a muted and flat protagonist. She possesses an acute awareness of racial dynamics, though, and the myriad ways her biracial identity causes friction throughout the novel provide moments of wit and insight. An emotional twist in the later chapters ups the stakes and gives the reader a reason to stay engaged.

A rumination on modern happiness that rewards patient readers in the end.

Pub Date: April 19, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-59-329826-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 2, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2022

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

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  • New York Times Bestseller

DEVOLUTION

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. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

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REMINDERS OF HIM

After being released from prison, a young woman tries to reconnect with her 5-year-old daughter despite having killed the girl’s father.

Kenna didn’t even know she was pregnant until after she was sent to prison for murdering her boyfriend, Scotty. When her baby girl, Diem, was born, she was forced to give custody to Scotty’s parents. Now that she’s been released, Kenna is intent on getting to know her daughter, but Scotty’s parents won’t give her a chance to tell them what really happened the night their son died. Instead, they file a restraining order preventing Kenna from so much as introducing herself to Diem. Handsome, self-assured Ledger, who was Scotty’s best friend, is another key adult in Diem’s life. He’s helping her grandparents raise her, and he too blames Kenna for Scotty’s death. Even so, there’s something about her that haunts him. Kenna feels the pull, too, and seems to be seeking Ledger out despite his judgmental behavior. As Ledger gets to know Kenna and acknowledges his attraction to her, he begins to wonder if maybe he and Scotty’s parents have judged her unfairly. Even so, Ledger is afraid that if he surrenders to his feelings, Scotty’s parents will kick him out of Diem’s life. As Kenna and Ledger continue to mourn for Scotty, they also grieve the future they cannot have with each other. Told alternatively from Kenna’s and Ledger’s perspectives, the story explores the myriad ways in which snap judgments based on partial information can derail people’s lives. Built on a foundation of death and grief, this story has an undercurrent of sadness. As usual, however, the author has created compelling characters who are magnetic and sympathetic enough to pull readers in. In addition to grief, the novel also deftly explores complex issues such as guilt, self-doubt, redemption, and forgiveness.

With captivating dialogue, angst-y characters, and a couple of steamy sex scenes, Hoover has done it again.

Pub Date: Jan. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5420-2560-7

Page Count: 335

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Review Posted Online: Oct. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2021

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