A charming, extraordinarily relatable book with the potential to become a timeless classic.

READ REVIEW

WEAVE A CIRCLE ROUND

A Canadian teenager learns about herself—and the fabric of the universe—when she goes traveling in time with an immortal 14-year-old.

Freddy Duchamp is uncertain where she fits in at high school, especially since her only two friends are about to dump her in a bid for popularity. But her attempt to survive by flying under the radar is utterly torpedoed by her strange new neighbor and classmate, Josiah, who seems determined to provoke attention and anger at every opportunity. Surviving high school soon becomes beside the point when Freddy finds herself traveling in time with Josiah, thanks to Josiah's even weirder housemate, Cuerva Lachance. Josiah and Cuerva Lachance are actually immortal forces representing order and chaos respectively. They're balanced out by an endlessly reincarnating mortal known as Three, who must choose between the other two in each time period. Apparently, either Freddy, her clever younger sister, Mel, or her sullen, geeky stepbrother, Roland, is the incarnation of Three in Freddy's time, but the two immortals aren't certain which of them it is. As Freddy traverses the past and future, she becomes ever more convinced that there's more to Three and the choice than Josiah and Cuerva Lachance are willing to reveal. Time travel is a tricky trope to make consistent, but Maaren employs it deftly. Her teenage characters are incredibly plausible. In contrast, it seems odd that Freddy's mother and stepfather could truly be as absent as they seem; it is possible (and sad), but it mostly feels like yet another trope: in order to have adventures, you have to get the parents out of the way. This debut novel could easily be pigeonholed as YA, and certainly those in that age group will gravitate to it, but adults shouldn't hesitate to dive in, too.

A charming, extraordinarily relatable book with the potential to become a timeless classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7653-8628-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Sept. 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

DEVOLUTION

Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

THE TESTAMENTS

Atwood goes back to Gilead.

The Handmaid’s Tale (1985), consistently regarded as a masterpiece of 20th-century literature, has gained new attention in recent years with the success of the Hulu series as well as fresh appreciation from readers who feel like this story has new relevance in America’s current political climate. Atwood herself has spoken about how news headlines have made her dystopian fiction seem eerily plausible, and it’s not difficult to imagine her wanting to revisit Gilead as the TV show has sped past where her narrative ended. Like the novel that preceded it, this sequel is presented as found documents—first-person accounts of life inside a misogynistic theocracy from three informants. There is Agnes Jemima, a girl who rejects the marriage her family arranges for her but still has faith in God and Gilead. There’s Daisy, who learns on her 16th birthday that her whole life has been a lie. And there's Aunt Lydia, the woman responsible for turning women into Handmaids. This approach gives readers insight into different aspects of life inside and outside Gilead, but it also leads to a book that sometimes feels overstuffed. The Handmaid’s Tale combined exquisite lyricism with a powerful sense of urgency, as if a thoughtful, perceptive woman was racing against time to give witness to her experience. That narrator hinted at more than she said; Atwood seemed to trust readers to fill in the gaps. This dynamic created an atmosphere of intimacy. However curious we might be about Gilead and the resistance operating outside that country, what we learn here is that what Atwood left unsaid in the first novel generated more horror and outrage than explicit detail can. And the more we get to know Agnes, Daisy, and Aunt Lydia, the less convincing they become. It’s hard, of course, to compete with a beloved classic, so maybe the best way to read this new book is to forget about The Handmaid’s Tale and enjoy it as an artful feminist thriller.

Suspenseful, full of incident, and not obviously necessary.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-385-54378-1

Page Count: 432

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more