A high-octane, comic book–style adventure.

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Germann’s debut sci-fi tale of a crusader (sans cape) who saves the city from an ultraviolent, drug-fueled crime wave blends cutting-edge biotechnology with plot points ripped straight from the headlines.

Germann’s novel draws deeply on the author’s background in technology and corporate culture, setting a suitably dark tone in a deadpan prologue reminiscent of the pseudo-anthropological conclusion of Atwood’s dystopian classic, The Handmaid’s Tale. He briefly summarizes the development of micro-engineering and the role it played during the “the early 21st century” when the crime rate in the Los Angeles basin mysteriously dropped. Set mostly in The Orchard—the gangland battlefield of a decaying neighborhood surrounding Mercy Hospital—the story unfurls as near Matrix-like action scenes slowly reveal the backstory of “the stranger,” a mysterious crime fighter with superhuman abilities; think Batman with nifty nanotech gear and an enviable Fortune 500 portfolio. These sequences blend with sweetly romantic interludes featuring whiz-kid Darren Kiel and his bewildered beloved, ER nurse Corrine Daniels. When not saving little old ladies from muggers and kicking gangland butt, Darren is busy minting money at his biotech development firm with his partner, Adam, or visiting his corrupt father in prison. That’s how it all begins for future action-adventure hero Darren: Pop’s example of how not to be a good citizen is, it seems, what inspired the rich genius to fight the good fight. The book is understandably comic-bookish in its portentous style, although the author slyly undercuts the prose with self-aware, dry humor and offbeat social commentary. The novel may be a tad overlong, but the author’s skillful manipulations of such a familiar formula make this novel imminently readable. Even the obligatory conspiracy theory—largely embodied by the shadowy Walter Rocaena—adds to the cartoonish fun. Then the hero moves on to the next hotspot—and likely a sequel.

A high-octane, comic book–style adventure.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2012

ISBN: 978-0985288808

Page Count: 314

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

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A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

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

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A LITTLE LIFE

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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