AUTUMN: AFTERMATH

Now that the re-animated dead are an ever decreasing threat, survivors must decide what to do next in the fifth and final book in Moody's (Autumn, 2010, etc.) Autumn series.

It's been 26 days since a contagion wiped out the vast majority of the human race and turned some of the dead into zombies. Pockets of survivors remain, however, emerging from secure hiding places long enough to scavenge supplies. Life is dangerous, as the zombies act aggressively toward the living, and zombie hordes converge wherever they perceive signs of life. But the zombies are steadily decaying, and before long they will be too weak to pose much of a threat. One group of survivors, shut securely in a castle, is just biding its time, waiting for the last of the dead to rot away before emerging to eke out a meager existence amongst the ruins. Their leader, Jackson, pushes them to plan for a post-zombie future that is very difficult for them to imagine, until a member of the group who was separated during a looting run returns with survivors from an island just off the coast. The islanders have cleared away all of the dead, and are working on setting up a self-sufficient society. The castle dwellers quickly split into two factions: one who thinks they should retreat to the safety of the island, and another hesitant to leave without an easy escape route. When the dispute leads to violence, the survivors must choose sides, and in doing so choose a vision for the human race's future. While the earlier books in the series were more focused on adrenaline-pumping escapes from the undead, Moody always took time for character development, and it pays off here. His world is well rendered and well thought-out, and by taking the long view, Moody gets to try something new: asking what happens after the reanimated corpses are gone, when humans must decide whether, after all they've seen and experienced, merely surviving is enough. A fine study of the human race's chances in a post-post-apocalyptic world.  

 

Pub Date: March 13, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-312-57002-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin’s Griffin

Review Posted Online: Feb. 5, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2012

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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