A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely complicated.

In the Mind of Revenge

From the The Shamed series , Vol. 1

A debut thriller tells the story of Shame, who survives a savage beating with a scarred, physically stronger body and a new mindset to seek justice for all who are persecuted.

School life for Shame, whose birth name is never revealed, was abominable. Peers’ baseless animosity and relentless torment seem derived from Shame’s androgyny. When Shame embraces the students’ epithet, The Shamed, by spray-painting it on a jacket, the resultant pummeling and mutilation leave the protagonist near death. Awakening from a coma two years later, the now-adult is heavily scarred and, as an unwitting guinea pig in experimental surgery, has most bones fused with a “special metal.” Though asserting an unemotional state, Shame heads to Baltimore to find Cassidy “Cassie” Peterson, an old friend and possible love in rehab at the time of Shame’s attack. Chance sightings of two of Shame’s assailants, however, open the door for retribution and torture. Shame even murders someone to avoid identification, and the trip to see Cassie eventually turns into evasion, especially with feds investigating those tortures. Shame makes a few friends but mostly encounters degenerates, the worst of the bunch turning out to be gangsters who think Shame killed one of their own. Finding Cassie and working up the courage to approach her takes a back seat when the thugs kidnap someone Shame’s just maybe grown to care about. Though Shame’s first-person perspective assumes reader sympathy is a certainty, some may not empathize so easily. The initial murder isn’t justified like the assailants’ comeuppance, and a few good people, by mere association, get the brunt of Shame’s intermingling with violent people. The protagonist, however, is fascinating, metal-infused bones putting Shame on the same level as bigger foes. Similarly, gender in the story is rightly meaningless when it comes to defining a person, even if nearly every male character is repulsive. The plot, at times, hits a standstill, readers essentially waiting as Shame decides when finally to reunite with Cassie. Nevertheless, Shame, who develops an attachment or two, is markedly less cold as the story progresses, while an implication of psychological illness—hearing voices of the dead—opens avenues of story possibilities. The cliffhanger ending is nothing short of electric.

A somber revenge tale, but fronted by a protagonist both absorbing and sublimely complicated.

Pub Date: Feb. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-578-16606-3

Page Count: 246

Publisher: Dreams Into Reality Publishing

Review Posted Online: June 28, 2016

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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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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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