A clunky, garbled novel about marriage, greed, and deception in Silicon Valley at the height of the tech boom.

BOTTLE GROVE

Consumed by their baser natures, two San Francisco couples struggle to find happiness within the confines of marriage and immense wealth.

Martin Icke, a down-on-his-luck barman, mixes bespoke cocktails at the wedding of Rachel, an anxious socialite about to marry Ben Nickels, a kindly tech underling. Midswizzle, Martin falls for Padgett, a poor-little-rich-girl with an ill-concealed substance abuse problem moonlighting as a waitress. The wedding is disrupted by the trickster wiles of Reynard, a hedonistic spirit that haunts the would-be monogamists of the book, reminding them of their animalistic desires. Affairs, animal experiments, potential kidnappings, and thefts ensue. In particular, Padgett and Martin concoct a scheme to put Padgett in the way of the Vic, a tech scion à la Zuckerberg and Jobs who has invented software that tracks your every move and stores it in "the Trail." If only Padgett can capture the Vic's interest, perhaps she can redistribute the immense wealth of Silicon Valley back into the pockets of a man like Martin. Handler (All the Dirty Parts, 2017, etc.) draws on fables like "Reynard the Fox" to comment on the inhumanity of his characters and tips his hat to noir films like Rebecca to pluck at the threads of the marriage plot. Instead of giving readers new ways to think about marriage or cruelty, however, these literary allusions only muddy the waters in a novel overly interested in solipsistic caricature and jagged, cynical pronouncements. Marriage is both a "big con" and "a civilizing influence." Gentrification is the "prowling," beastly instinct of the tech bro. Characters quip endlessly, repeating the same tiresome steps in Handler's wordplay shuffles. "You're icky, Icke," Padgett tells Martin at some point. Reynard's appearance is "not ghastly, just ghostly." A drunkard watches a bar "shimmer as if in a breezy breeze." While the brutal inhumanities of startup culture are ripe for satire and criticism, this novel fails to deliver even a glancing blow.

A clunky, garbled novel about marriage, greed, and deception in Silicon Valley at the height of the tech boom.

Pub Date: Aug. 27, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63286-427-7

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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