Itäranta's fine debut is lyrically rendered, vivid and engaging despite a bit too much philosophy and a less-than-satisfying...

MEMORY OF WATER

Delicate medium-future fable that first appeared in Finland in 2012.

Global warming has destroyed the old world and its order. Wars were fought over energy resources and water, rendering Norway and Sweden uninhabitable. Now the empire of New Qian rules Asia and much of Europe. In the far north of occupied Finland, where even in winter the temperature rarely drops below 50 degrees and water shortages are endemic, 17-year-old Noria Kaitio studies under her father to become a tea master. Not only must Noria learn the ceremony, with its underlying philosophy and ethics, but she must be introduced to her father’s greatest secret: the location of the hidden spring from which the water for the teahouse derives. The region’s military chief, Maj. Bolin—a family friend and frequent guest—has been protecting the teahouse, but as water shortages become ever more acute, Bolin’s successor, Cmdr. Taro, proves less accommodating. After soldiers dig up the grounds and trash the teahouse, finding nothing, Noria’s mother leaves to take up a position at a university in China, hoping Noria will join her. Meanwhile, Noria’s friend Sanja, a young woman with an extraordinary talent for fixing broken junk recovered from ancient landfills, recovers what she fails to recognize as a CD player. In the same landfill, Noria finds a disk, which they are able to play and whose contents hint at an extraordinary and dangerous secret. After her father dies, Noria makes plans to learn the truth.

Itäranta's fine debut is lyrically rendered, vivid and engaging despite a bit too much philosophy and a less-than-satisfying ending.

Pub Date: June 10, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-06-232615-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2014

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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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FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS

This is good Hemingway. It has some of the tenderness of A Farewell to Arms and some of its amazing power to make one feel inside the picture of a nation at war, of the people experiencing war shorn of its glamor, of the emotions that the effects of war — rather than war itself — arouse. But in style and tempo and impact, there is greater resemblance to The Sun Also Rises. Implicit in the characters and the story is the whole tragic lesson of Spain's Civil War, proving ground for today's holocaust, and carrying in its small compass, the contradictions, the human frailties, the heroism and idealism and shortcomings. In retrospect the thread of the story itself is slight. Three days, during which time a young American, a professor who has taken his Sabbatical year from the University of Montana to play his part in the struggle for Loyalist Spain and democracy. He is sent to a guerilla camp of partisans within the Fascist lines to blow up a strategic bridge. His is a complex problem in humanity, a group of undisciplined, unorganized natives, emotionally geared to go their own way, while he has a job that demands unreasoning, unwavering obedience. He falls in love with a lovely refugee girl, escaping the terrors of a fascist imprisonment, and their romance is sharply etched against a gruesome background. It is a searing book; Hemingway has done more to dramatize the Spanish War than any amount of abstract declamation. Yet he has done it through revealing the pettinesses, the indignities, the jealousies, the cruelties on both sides, never glorifying simply presenting starkly the belief in the principles for which these people fought a hopeless war, to give the rest of the world an interval to prepare. There is something of the implacable logic of Verdun in the telling. It's not a book for the thin-skinned; it has more than its fill of obscenities and the style is clipped and almost too elliptical for clarity at times. But it is a book that repays one for bleak moments of unpleasantness.

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 1940

ISBN: 0684803356

Page Count: 484

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 1940

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