An intriguing premise with vivid melding of science and myth.

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In this science-fiction novel, a group of rebels defies the Guild, a monopoly that controls nanotechnology-based health care.

After various future disasters, a new kind of doctor has emerged: the Linker. Using nanotechnology and innate extrasensory perception, “The Linker brings a portion of the client’s energy into [an internal] construct called the Labyrinth….There like Theseus in the Labyrinth of Daedalus, the Linker defends the client’s energy…against a counter-energy perceived as the Minotaur.” A Linker can halt the process of death for at most a few days, giving the patient a chance to complete unfinished business—but nothing else, according to the Guild. A movement is growing to overthrow the Guild and uplink many minds for healing and psychic exploration, a movement known as k&-'myü-n&-tE, the phonetic rendering of “community.” The user’s brain hooks up and connects with other users on “Internet 3,” as if joining a data-rich dream being directed by a group mind. For one user, “Her interactions took shape within wonderfully mad problems like what is the percent GNP of Thailand related to fluctuations in Brazilian copper futures.” Several Linkers, some victims of a new disease said to be caused by the process, meet secretly to test the boundaries and possibilities of the Link. In his debut novel, Schuster ably blends science and myth, giving abstractions solidity through evocative imagery. For example, one Linker always enters his mental portal by seeing himself as a boy turning cartwheels on the beach; as his feet land in those wet footprints leading to the water, he dives into the Link. Schuster’s characters are individual and well-developed, and he employs nice turns of phrase; e.g., a young patient’s energy appears as “a boy, breathing, full of sweat and adventure.” It’s unclear whether k&-'myü-n&-tE wants to be more like a hospital, an Internet chat room, a data farm, or a group mystical experience; the novel spends more time solving immediate problems of access and uplink (and, too, in tracing character relationships) than considering these interesting possibilities.

An intriguing premise with vivid melding of science and myth.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dog Ear Publisher

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2015

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The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as...

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THE TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ

An unlikely love story set amid the horrors of a Nazi death camp.

Based on real people and events, this debut novel follows Lale Sokolov, a young Slovakian Jew sent to Auschwitz in 1942. There, he assumes the heinous task of tattooing incoming Jewish prisoners with the dehumanizing numbers their SS captors use to identify them. When the Tätowierer, as he is called, meets fellow prisoner Gita Furman, 17, he is immediately smitten. Eventually, the attraction becomes mutual. Lale proves himself an operator, at once cagey and courageous: As the Tätowierer, he is granted special privileges and manages to smuggle food to starving prisoners. Through female prisoners who catalog the belongings confiscated from fellow inmates, Lale gains access to jewels, which he trades to a pair of local villagers for chocolate, medicine, and other items. Meanwhile, despite overwhelming odds, Lale and Gita are able to meet privately from time to time and become lovers. In 1944, just ahead of the arrival of Russian troops, Lale and Gita separately leave the concentration camp and experience harrowingly close calls. Suffice it to say they both survive. To her credit, the author doesn’t flinch from describing the depravity of the SS in Auschwitz and the unimaginable suffering of their victims—no gauzy evasions here, as in Boy in the Striped Pajamas. She also manages to raise, if not really explore, some trickier issues—the guilt of those Jews, like the tattooist, who survived by doing the Nazis’ bidding, in a sense betraying their fellow Jews; and the complicity of those non-Jews, like the Slovaks in Lale’s hometown, who failed to come to the aid of their beleaguered countrymen.

The writing is merely serviceable, and one can’t help but wish the author had found a way to present her material as nonfiction. Still, this is a powerful, gut-wrenching tale that is hard to shake off.

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-279715-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2018

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A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

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IN FIVE YEARS

After acing a job interview and accepting a marriage proposal, Dannie Kohan has had the perfect day. That is, until she awakens to find herself five years in the future with a completely different man.

Just one hour in that alternate reality shakes Dannie to her core. After all, highly ambitious Dannie and her boyfriend, David, have plotted out their lives in minute detail, and the sexy man in her dream—was it a dream?—is most certainly not in the script. Serle (The Dinner List, 2018) deftly spins these magical threads into Dannie’s perfectly structured life, leaving not only Dannie, but also the reader wondering whether Dannie time traveled or hallucinated. Her best friend, Bella, would delight in the story given that she thinks Dannie is much too straight-laced, and some spicy dreaming might push Dannie to find someone more passionate than David. Unfortunately, glamorous Bella is in Europe with her latest lover. Ever pragmatic, Dannie consults her therapist, who almost concurs that it was likely a dream, and throws herself into her work. Pleased to have landed the job at a prestigious law firm, Dannie easily loses her worries in litigation. Soon four and a half years have passed with no wedding date set, and Bella is back in the U.S. with a new man in her life. A man who turns out to be literally the man of Dannie’s dream. The sheer fact of Aaron Gregory’s existence forces Dannie to reevaluate her trust in the laws of physics as well as her decision to marry David, a decision that seems less believable with each passing day. And as the architecture of Dannie’s overplanned life disintegrates, Serle twists and twines the remnants of her dream into a surprising future.

A heartwarming portrait of a broken heart finding a little healing magic.

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3744-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Dec. 9, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

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