Richly imagined, profound, and of the moment.

COME WITH ME

A Palo Alto–set domestic drama with a touch of sci-fi: What if the results of one's life choices could be explored not only in daydreams, but with a virtual reality–type app that generates personal "multiverses"?

Dan and Amy are raising a high school senior named Jack and much younger twins, Miles and Theo. Dan is a journalist who's been unemployed too long; his whole sense of self is crumbling, and he's about to have a midlife crisis involving an attractive reporter and a trip to Japan. Amy works for the 19-year-old son of her best friend back on the East Coast. The boy has started a tech company out of his dorm at Stanford, working on a system for exploring multiverses called Furrier.com (his grandma often told his grandpa she should have married the furrier) and using Amy as a guinea pig. Jack has a serious girlfriend who lives in Texas; they spend all their waking hours together via Skype and FaceTime, and she even has dinner with his family. The twins, known as Thing One and Thing Two, are both having issues at elementary school. Around these main characters, Schulman (This Beautiful Life, 2011, etc.) has brought to life a large cast of supporting players with intelligence and humor, even as the story veers pretty suddenly into tragedy in the final third. Even if the workings of the gizmo that allows the user to experience multiverses are never really clear or believable, the questions it raises are profound and engaging and they're woven into the "regular" part of the plot as well, with characters ruminating over the consequences of decisions past and present, great and small. There are a formidable number of elements crammed into this novel, mostly successfully—nuclear disaster in Japan feels a little off-track, while teen suicide clusters in San Jose are on the money—but Schulman is just such a good writer, and the things she's thinking about are so interesting, you'll stay with her right until the end.

Richly imagined, profound, and of the moment.

Pub Date: Nov. 27, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-06-245913-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2018

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Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

THEN SHE WAS GONE

Ten years after her teenage daughter went missing, a mother begins a new relationship only to discover she can't truly move on until she answers lingering questions about the past.

Laurel Mack’s life stopped in many ways the day her 15-year-old daughter, Ellie, left the house to study at the library and never returned. She drifted away from her other two children, Hanna and Jake, and eventually she and her husband, Paul, divorced. Ten years later, Ellie’s remains and her backpack are found, though the police are unable to determine the reasons for her disappearance and death. After Ellie’s funeral, Laurel begins a relationship with Floyd, a man she meets in a cafe. She's disarmed by Floyd’s charm, but when she meets his young daughter, Poppy, Laurel is startled by her resemblance to Ellie. As the novel progresses, Laurel becomes increasingly determined to learn what happened to Ellie, especially after discovering an odd connection between Poppy’s mother and her daughter even as her relationship with Floyd is becoming more serious. Jewell’s (I Found You, 2017, etc.) latest thriller moves at a brisk pace even as she plays with narrative structure: The book is split into three sections, including a first one which alternates chapters between the time of Ellie’s disappearance and the present and a second section that begins as Laurel and Floyd meet. Both of these sections primarily focus on Laurel. In the third section, Jewell alternates narrators and moments in time: The narrator switches to alternating first-person points of view (told by Poppy’s mother and Floyd) interspersed with third-person narration of Ellie’s experiences and Laurel’s discoveries in the present. All of these devices serve to build palpable tension, but the structure also contributes to how deeply disturbing the story becomes. At times, the characters and the emotional core of the events are almost obscured by such quick maneuvering through the weighty plot.

Dark and unsettling, this novel’s end arrives abruptly even as readers are still moving at a breakneck speed.

Pub Date: April 24, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5464-5

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: Feb. 6, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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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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