YOURS FOR THE TAKING

Like the woman at its center, this novel sparkles with interesting ideas but struggles to delve deeper.

A feminist multibillionaire’s solution to a climate change–induced housing crisis comes with a dark underbelly in this debut novel.

Ava is a white 20-something trying to stay afloat in 2050s New York City. Opportunities—and the island itself—are shrinking, so when applications to the Inside Project go live, both she and her girlfriend jump through all number of hoops to apply. Greenlit by the United World Government and funded in part by the enormously wealthy tech innovator Jacqueline Millender, Inside is supposed to provide state-of-the-art insulated housing for three million people selected by lottery. When Ava alone is chosen to go Inside, she starts on a path that will intersect with two other women—Shelby, Jacqueline’s white, trans assistant, and Olympia, Inside’s Black, queer medical director—and reveal how much the program is shaped by Jacqueline’s personal desires and willful ignorance. Korn’s premise couldn’t be more timely, mining ecological anxieties and the disappointments of girlboss feminism, but the novel’s engaging opening act doesn’t provide enough structural support for the back half. Despite regularly deployed reveals, the novel rarely surprises, seeming more interested in taking Jacqueline to task on the page than making her a compelling villain. Each point-of-view character is allowed serious relationships (romantic, familial, or friendly) with a maximum of three people, which gives a book ostensibly about community a very lonely feeling. While the point of Inside may be its unsustainability, the lack of thought about basic functionality (Olympia realizes, 43 chapters in, that there are no codified rules against romantic relationships between Inside medical staff and residents) becomes an indictment of the author as well as the characters.

Like the woman at its center, this novel sparkles with interesting ideas but struggles to delve deeper.

Pub Date: Dec. 5, 2023

ISBN: 9781250283368

Page Count: 336

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Sept. 9, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2023

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THE WOMEN

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

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A young woman’s experience as a nurse in Vietnam casts a deep shadow over her life.

When we learn that the farewell party in the opening scene is for Frances “Frankie” McGrath’s older brother—“a golden boy, a wild child who could make the hardest heart soften”—who is leaving to serve in Vietnam in 1966, we feel pretty certain that poor Finley McGrath is marked for death. Still, it’s a surprise when the fateful doorbell rings less than 20 pages later. His death inspires his sister to enlist as an Army nurse, and this turn of events is just the beginning of a roller coaster of a plot that’s impressive and engrossing if at times a bit formulaic. Hannah renders the experiences of the young women who served in Vietnam in all-encompassing detail. The first half of the book, set in gore-drenched hospital wards, mildewed dorm rooms, and boozy officers’ clubs, is an exciting read, tracking the transformation of virginal, uptight Frankie into a crack surgical nurse and woman of the world. Her tensely platonic romance with a married surgeon ends when his broken, unbreathing body is airlifted out by helicopter; she throws her pent-up passion into a wild affair with a soldier who happens to be her dead brother’s best friend. In the second part of the book, after the war, Frankie seems to experience every possible bad break. A drawback of the story is that none of the secondary characters in her life are fully three-dimensional: Her dismissive, chauvinistic father and tight-lipped, pill-popping mother, her fellow nurses, and her various love interests are more plot devices than people. You’ll wish you could have gone to Vegas and placed a bet on the ending—while it’s against all the odds, you’ll see it coming from a mile away.

A dramatic, vividly detailed reconstruction of a little-known aspect of the Vietnam War.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781250178633

Page Count: 480

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2023

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2023

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IT STARTS WITH US

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

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The sequel to It Ends With Us (2016) shows the aftermath of domestic violence through the eyes of a single mother.

Lily Bloom is still running a flower shop; her abusive ex-husband, Ryle Kincaid, is still a surgeon. But now they’re co-parenting a daughter, Emerson, who's almost a year old. Lily won’t send Emerson to her father’s house overnight until she’s old enough to talk—“So she can tell me if something happens”—but she doesn’t want to fight for full custody lest it become an expensive legal drama or, worse, a physical fight. When Lily runs into Atlas Corrigan, a childhood friend who also came from an abusive family, she hopes their friendship can blossom into love. (For new readers, their history unfolds in heartfelt diary entries that Lily addresses to Finding Nemo star Ellen DeGeneres as she considers how Atlas was a calming presence during her turbulent childhood.) Atlas, who is single and running a restaurant, feels the same way. But even though she’s divorced, Lily isn’t exactly free. Behind Ryle’s veneer of civility are his jealousy and resentment. Lily has to plan her dates carefully to avoid a confrontation. Meanwhile, Atlas’ mother returns with shocking news. In between, Lily and Atlas steal away for romantic moments that are even sweeter for their authenticity as Lily struggles with child care, breastfeeding, and running a business while trying to find time for herself.

Through palpable tension balanced with glimmers of hope, Hoover beautifully captures the heartbreak and joy of starting over.

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-668-00122-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2022

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