A colorful meditation on friendship and creation nested within a fictional universe.


A childhood friendship marks a young Korean-American man’s imagination for life.

Lim (The Strangers, 2013, etc.) goes full meta for a twisty, often confusing, but entertaining reflection on art, resistance, heroes, and villains. It begins simply enough, with our nameless narrator describing what it’s like to be a preteen of Asian descent living in rural Ohio. The protagonist’s most important relationship is with his friend Vu, a cipher who disappears and reappears throughout the novel. In this opening chapter, Lim tosses in a throwaway line that turns out to resonate later: “Here is one lesson that Vu taught me. It maybe doesn’t seem on the surface to be about comic books, but it is.” But from here, things get pretty weird. Strange and somewhat vague interstitial messages, all starting with the titular greeting "Dear Cyborgs," serve as the pivot between different narratives—“When I say cyborgs, of course I mean us,” the book explains later. Following the introduction, Lim abruptly cuts to the narrative of cyberpunk detective Frank Exit, who is hot on the heels of a cultural terrorist named Ms. Mistleto. The hyperkinetic chapters focused on their conflict find the duo chasing each other in far-flung locales from Sri Lanka to the Himalayas. Yet other chapters find the primary narrator, a writer, deep in discussions with his sister and other friends on topics largely centered on the nature of art and protest and ranging from a Bangladeshi artist who commits suicide to the activist and Black Panther Richard Aoki. The villain Ms. Mistleto also becomes a flesh-and-blood character complete with an origin story. “Losing everything does gift you with freedom if nothing else,” she explains. “That’s a rewrite of a pithier song refrain.” It’s not always easy to follow; at one point, Lim randomly inserts a chapter from the detective novel that one of the book’s fictional characters is reading. But it is eerily reflective of our fractured times, darting from subject to subject with the speed of a mouse click.

A colorful meditation on friendship and creation nested within a fictional universe.

Pub Date: June 6, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-374-53711-1

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2017

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There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.


Passion, friendship, heartbreak, and forgiveness ring true in Lovering's debut, the tale of a young woman's obsession with a man who's "good at being charming."

Long Island native Lucy Albright, starts her freshman year at Baird College in Southern California, intending to study English and journalism and become a travel writer. Stephen DeMarco, an upperclassman, is a political science major who plans to become a lawyer. Soon after they meet, Lucy tells Stephen an intensely personal story about the Unforgivable Thing, a betrayal that turned Lucy against her mother. Stephen pretends to listen to Lucy's painful disclosure, but all his thoughts are about her exposed black bra strap and her nipples pressing against her thin cotton T-shirt. It doesn't take Lucy long to realize Stephen's a "manipulative jerk" and she is "beyond pathetic" in her desire for him, but their lives are now intertwined. Their story takes seven years to unfold, but it's a fast-paced ride through hookups, breakups, and infidelities fueled by alcohol and cocaine and with oodles of sizzling sexual tension. "Lucy was an itch, a song stuck in your head or a movie you need to rewatch or a food you suddenly crave," Stephen says in one of his point-of-view chapters, which alternate with Lucy's. The ending is perfect, as Lucy figures out the dark secret Stephen has kept hidden and learns the difference between lustful addiction and mature love.

There are unforgettable beauties in this very sexy story.

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-6964-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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

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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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