A self-indulgent novel about a self-indulgent character in which titillation trumps insight.

READ REVIEW

ANIMALS EAT EACH OTHER

Nash’s debut novel explores the territory between attraction and obsession with a healthy dose of apathy thrown in for good measure.

Lilith is a poster child for disaffected youth growing up on the wrong side of the tracks in Colorado Springs in the early 2000s. A recent high school graduate, she lives in a dilapidated trailer park with her clinically depressed mother and, in between her shifts at RadioShack, spends her time drinking Robitussin and stealing her mother’s Vicodin. A bitterly precise observer of the monoculture that surrounds her, Lilith is committed to whiling away her young adulthood in a haze of drugs, sex, late '90s shock rock, and plaintive tattoos until she meets Matt and Frankie, young parents in search of something new to spice up their relationship. What follows is an escalating series of encounters in which characters get tattoos, do drugs, have increasingly violent sex, and explore the boundaries of possession as Lilith tries to fill the “daddy-shaped hole” left by her father’s death. Lilith’s name is given to her by Frankie as a symbol of her “wild demon woman” nature, and, as the relationships among the trio deepen, the symbolism of this identity as an anti-Eve is played upon. Lilith is attracted to Frankie’s poise and wants to possess her friendship; she is obsessed with Matt’s eros and wants to possess his love; she is in turn both the dominant and the submissive in a series of sexually manipulative encounters with her friend Jenny; her RadioShack boss, Sam; her unnamed high school boyfriend; and Matt’s friend Patrick. In short, she “[makes] a chaotic mess” of both her life and the lives of everyone around her. As the novel progresses, the characters’ predictable changes of heart and the power dynamics that drive the plot become muddled by Nash’s insistent return to Lilith’s mantra of low self-esteem and a kind of hot-topic Satanism that stands in for a philosophical investigation into Lilith’s inner life. While Nash’s choice of the first-person narrator gives us a believable and at times engaging window into a specific subset of the early 21st century’s version of corporate nihilism, the work as a whole is overshadowed by Lilith’s unrelenting narcissism, which prevents the reader from forming any empathy with her point of view or sympathy for her eventual vulnerability.

A self-indulgent novel about a self-indulgent character in which titillation trumps insight.

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-938604-43-0

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Dzanc

Review Posted Online: Feb. 11, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2019

  • IndieBound Bestseller

RED, WHITE & ROYAL BLUE

The much-loved royal romance genre gets a fun and refreshing update in McQuiston’s debut.

Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the American President Ellen Claremont, knows one thing for sure: He hates Henry, the British prince to whom he is always compared. He lives for their verbal sparring matches, but when one of their fights at a royal wedding goes a bit too far, they end up falling into a wedding cake and making tabloid headlines. An international scandal could ruin Alex’s mother’s chances for re-election, so it’s time for damage control. The plan? Alex and Henry must pretend to be best friends, giving the tabloids pictures of their bromance and neutralizing the threat to Ellen's presidency. But after a few photo ops with Henry, Alex starts to realize that the passionate anger he feels toward him might be a cover for regular old passion. There are, naturally, a million roadblocks between their first kiss and their happily-ever-after—how can American political royalty and actual British royalty ever be together? How can they navigate being open about their sexualities (Alex is bisexual; Henry is gay) in their very public and very scrutinized roles? Alex and Henry must decide if they’ll risk their futures, their families, and their careers to take a chance on happiness. Although the story’s premise might be a fantasy—it takes place in a world in which a divorced-mom Texan Democrat won the 2016 election—the emotions are all real. The love affair between Alex and Henry is intense and romantic, made all the more so by the inclusion of their poetic emails that manage to be both funny and steamy. McQuiston’s strength is in dialogue; her characters speak in hilarious rapid-fire bursts with plenty of “likes,” “ums,” creative punctuation, and pop-culture references, sounding like smarter, funnier versions of real people. Although Alex and Henry’s relationship is the heart of the story, their friends and family members are all rich, well-drawn characters, and their respective worlds feel both realistic and larger-than-life.

A clever, romantic, sexy love story.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-31677-6

Page Count: 432

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Review Posted Online: March 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

Another success for the publishing phenom.

UNDER CURRENTS

An abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

Pub Date: July 9, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-250-20709-8

Page Count: 448

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more