With so many questions left unanswered, this dystopia is ripe for a sequel.

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DISASTER'S CHILDREN

Growing up among privileged doomsday preppers, Marlo has always known that the end of the world was nigh. But she never suspected trouble from within her community.

Climate change, poisoned soil, rising sea levels—the harbingers of ecological collapse prompted Marlo, her adoptive parents, and a group of wealthy, like-minded survivalists to settle a secluded community in the wilds of Oregon. Adopted at 14 months old, Marlo has grown up on the ranch, with only occasional visits to the outside world, a place known as the Disaster among the ranchers. Now 25, Marlo has few friends left now that Alex and Ben have moved out. With sporadic access to the internet, Marlo doesn't get many updates from them about their adventures in eco-activism. But the sleepy wait for an apocalypse abruptly ends when five bald eagles are discovered dead on the ranch with no clear cause of death. Curious about life in the Disaster and restless to participate in the fight against climate change, Marlo makes plans to temporarily leave the ranch. But her overprotective, smothering parents have other ideas. Serendipitously, a mysterious stranger arrives at the ranch. His name is Wolf, and he may be the answer to at least some of Marlo's prayers, as they quickly connect and fall in love. In this, her debut novel, Sloley masterfully weaves together the tropes of dystopia, romance, and mystery. Suspicions and questions abound: Is Wolf too good to be true? Who is posting ominous religious quotations around the community? Who hid the mysterious gun cache? Yet as alarming events compound, the rising sense of menace is undercut by Marlo’s naiveté. Her sheltered life and overdependence on her parents prevent her from seeing the dangers that the reader sees at every corner.

With so many questions left unanswered, this dystopia is ripe for a sequel.

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-0406-0

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Little A

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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THE VANISHING HALF

Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in White society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so Black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her White persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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