Morris writes brilliantly in short, spasmodic chapters, but her vision borders on despair.

YOUNG GOD

A bleak novel of poverty and drugs in rural North Carolina, reminiscent of Flannery O’Connor but without a redemptive vision.

At the center of the action is 13-year-old Nikki, whose mother dies at the beginning of the novel. This leads Nikki back to her father, Coy Hawkins, recently released from prison and, not coincidentally, formerly the biggest coke dealer in the county. Coy has taken up with Angel, a bleached-blonde teenager who dresses in high heels and see-through outfits; he pimps her out in cheap hotel rooms to earn money for his next big score. High on his list of resentments is another pimp, who, the month before, had tried to wrest Angel away, but Coy is able to track down his rival and slice and dice his face. If we need further evidence of Coy’s vileness, we get it when Nikki introduces him to Renee, another adolescent whose virginity should bring a high price. But Coy rapes her, shoots her and, with Nikki’s help, cuts up her body and leaves her where animals will find her. The Next Big Thing for Coy is black heroin, which he’s convinced will make him rich. Nikki is far more afraid of being discovered by the Department of Social Services than of being mistreated by her father, so she develops her own drug business and shows herself more than equal to her egregious and slimy father. It is indeed rare to find such entrepreneurial spirit in a slightly post-pubescent teen.

Morris writes brilliantly in short, spasmodic chapters, but her vision borders on despair.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-374-53423-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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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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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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