Any one of these plot strands could plausibly drive an arresting story. When Jensen (My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time,...


A troubled therapist’s attempts in the very near future to treat an even more troubled teen rapidly escalate into visions of full-scale global disaster.

Even before she killed her mother, Bethany Krall was an unusual girl: bright, defensive and as manipulative in her own way as her father, an evangelical preacher. Now that she’s incarcerated and undergoing electro-convulsive therapy in the Oxsmith Adolescent Secure Psychiatric Hospital, she’s become so addicted to “volts” that she craves each treatment. And no wonder, for ECT seems to be turning her into a modern-day Nostradamus who can predict meteorological disasters with uncanny accuracy. When Bethany’s original psychotherapist takes a “sabbatical,” the teen is assigned to art therapist Gabrielle Fox, wheelchair-bound after the car crash that left her married lover dead. Unsure how far to trust this foul-mouthed, sociopathic patient and her increasingly eschatological prophecies of doom, Gabrielle joins forces with a Scottish physicist to monitor Bethany’s forecasts and then, when they prove out, to spread the word about them. The pair hope to avert worldwide havoc without destroying their reputations. Not surprisingly, they can’t. So what begins as an exceptionally fraught therapeutic dialogue adds more layers: romantic entanglements, forums on faith and its expressions, summer-movie end-of-days scenarios. The results are steadily more unnerving—not only because it’s not easy to contemplate the end of the world as we know it, but because the Armageddon sequences are interlarded with confessions of love, therapeutic breakthroughs, revelations of domestic abuse, religious views of the apocalypse, as well as question of whether Bethany’s unnerving predictions make her a prophet, a lucky guesser or a satanic figure who’s deliberately causing the disasters she’s pretending to foretell.

Any one of these plot strands could plausibly drive an arresting story. When Jensen (My Dirty Little Book of Stolen Time, 2006, etc.) folds them all together, the result is a ride even bumpier than the one that killed Gabrielle’s lover.

Pub Date: Aug. 11, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-385-52821-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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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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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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