A promising premise that is sometimes too clever for its own good.

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THE SCHRÖDINGER GIRL

A psychology professor encounters a teenage girl who exists as multiple incarnations, each living in a separate reality.

During a sudden downpour in 1967, Garrett Adams is browsing in a crowded bookshop on Columbus Circle when a crowd of people push in to escape the rain. As he starts reading a book about Schrödinger—he of the famous cat-in-a-box thought experiment—Garrett impulsively decides to ask any customer to lunch who also comes and picks up the book, hoping for an impromptu discussion about philosophy. When the next taker turns out to be a teenage girl named Daphne, Garrett strikes up an unlikely friendship with the precocious young woman. Soon after meeting, the two visit an art gallery and encounter a painting that is, without question, of Daphne. The only trouble is, she insists she never sat for it. When Garrett makes a visit to the artist, he learns Daphne was in Boston with the painter at the exact same time that Garrett visited the New York gallery—with Daphne. Thus begins Garrett’s wild journey to put together the pieces of how Daphne can seem to be two (and later more) people at the same time. With the help of the gallery owner and an old college friend who now practices psychotherapy, Garrett follows his Alice, or Alices, down the rabbit hole of late 1960s youth culture. Brett, who has written a critical study of postmodern fiction (Disquiet on the Western Front, 2016), has hit upon an immensely interesting concept for her debut novel, one that allows her to dig deep into psychology, philosophy, physics, and, most importantly, politics as Daphne shakes Garrett out of his indifference toward the cultural turmoil of the late '60s. But the book wears its historical details stiffly, and the book’s idea-heavy passages work against the plot’s natural momentum.

A promising premise that is sometimes too clever for its own good.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61775-729-7

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Kaylie Jones/Akashic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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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

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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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