An exceptional follow-up with a menacing monster and characters worth rooting for.



In Lee’s (Him, 2017, etc.) thriller sequel, a group of people who miraculously survived an encounter with a huge, prehistoric crocodile set out to find and stop the creature.

Texas State University student Katie Marshall is suddenly a rich woman; her late father, Clint, left her a sizable inheritance, including assets from a couple of oil companies. She decides to use her wealth to track down the “Aquasaurus”—the media’s moniker for a giant crocodile that she and her friends faced in Lee’s 2016 novel of the same name. Clint’s airplane and boat are now at her disposal, as is pilot and driver Hootie Johnson, his former “right-hand man.” Katie assures her pals Rita Martin, Jesse Perrine, and Jake Haw that she only wants to find the crocodile and then contact authorities to handle it. According to news reports, the Aquasaurus is in Mexican waters, so that’s where Katie and company go. Another survivor from the previous book, earth science professor Tom Morrison, is about to publish a story in Discovery Magazine, but the editors want new pictures of the Aquasaurus to accompany the article. Tom promises them “clear and close-up” photographs and recruits his student assistant, Mark Carter, to accompany him on a trip to Mexico. When the professor learns of the other group’s undertaking, he opts to secretly follow them in lieu of teaming up. This is a potentially dangerous decision, as the area is also populated by pirates and drug runners. And, of course, there’s a massive reptilian creature out there, as well, that has the ability to set traps for its prey. As in the series’ first installment, this novel favors suspense over gory monster attacks. In fact, Lee merely implies much of the violence, and he also keeps the story free of obscenities or explicit sex. Most of the previous novel’s characters return, and the author smartly zeros in on the evolving relationships among them. For example, Jake, who’s been seeing Katie romantically for a few years, is jealous of her easygoing banter with much-older Hootie, while Mark’s periodic obtuseness vexes the professor. Occasional moments from the creature’s perspective generate effective suspense, as readers often know how close the Aquasaurus is to the protagonists—even when they don’t. And the titular croc isn’t the only thing that will put readers on edge; for instance, Hootie is worried about a “device” that Clint left on the boat, and he’s anxious when officers board the vessel and examine the mysterious object. There are also run-ins with another colossal reptile as well as sea lice, which hook tiny spines into human skin. This spotlight-sharing does somewhat diminish the presence of the crocodile, especially as there are so few scenes of its attacks. Lee describes the Aquasaurus realistically, and its most frightening features tend to be those that are shared by regular crocodiles. Nevertheless, it proves to be utterly terrifying in an inevitable clash in the final act.

An exceptional follow-up with a menacing monster and characters worth rooting for.

Pub Date: March 14, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-73211-311-4

Page Count: 419

Publisher: Aim-Hi Publishing

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2019

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An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.


A group of strangers who live near each other in London become fast friends after writing their deepest secrets in a shared notebook.

Julian Jessop, a septuagenarian artist, is bone-crushingly lonely when he starts “The Authenticity Project”—as he titles a slim green notebook—and begins its first handwritten entry questioning how well people know each other in his tiny corner of London. After 15 years on his own mourning the loss of his beloved wife, he begins the project with the aim that whoever finds the little volume when he leaves it in a cafe will share their true self with their own entry and then pass the volume on to a stranger. The second person to share their inner selves in the notebook’s pages is Monica, 37, owner of a failing cafe and a former corporate lawyer who desperately wants to have a baby. From there the story unfolds, as the volume travels to Thailand and back to London, seemingly destined to fall only into the hands of people—an alcoholic drug addict, an Australian tourist, a social media influencer/new mother, etc.—who already live clustered together geographically. This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free. Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple, appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world—no chain stores or brands allowed here—making friends and forming a real-life community and support network. And is that really a bad thing?

An enjoyable, cozy novel that touches on tough topics.

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7861-8

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Pamela Dorman/Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 27, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2019

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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