As one of a small group of authors who won literary credibility for dystopian fiction, Atwood has taught her readers to...



Dystopian clichés are played as farce in this nasty tale.

Comparisons to Atwood's earlier work, an oeuvre of more than 40 volumes that includes the Man Booker Prize winner The Blind Assassin; the early feminist/dystopian classic The Handmaid's Tale; the pioneering mean-girls novel Cat's Eye; and the post-apocalyptic trilogy Oryx and Crake (2003), The Year of the Flood (2009), and Maddaddam (2013), are best avoided here. This slapped-together pastiche tells the story of Stan and Charmaine, a doltish young couple who have lost everything in some vague "financial-crash business-wrecking meltdown" and are now living in their car, hungry and on the run from rapists and other outlaws. In desperation, they eagerly sign up to live in a settlement called the Positron Project. Here, people alternate months between performing slave labor in a sex-segregated jail and living with their partners in a sterile suburban town called Consilience. The project's slogan is "CONSILIENCE = CONS+RESILIENCE. DO TIME NOW, BUY TIME FOR OUR FUTURE!"—and it's never going to make more sense than that. To an officially sanctioned soundtrack of Doris Day and Bing Crosby, Stan and Charmaine go about their appointed tasks, which include his providing poultry for incarcerated men to have sex with and her murdering people by injection. When the doll-like, almost subhuman Charmaine inexplicably throws herself into a tawdry affair with another man and Stan is reassigned to a sex-robot project ("As an on-demand sexual experience, it's said to be better than the bonk-a-chicken racket..."), the weak premises of the plot collapse, burying its characters in the rubble. Atwood is noted for satiric humor, but with the misanthropy of this book equaled by its misogyny, with women repeatedly melting "like toffee" and treating each other like "something that got stuck on their shoe" and "puppy throw-up," it's just not funny. The end of the novel, set in an "Elvisorium" full of gay Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas, will leave the few who have gotten that far completely bewildered.

As one of a small group of authors who won literary credibility for dystopian fiction, Atwood has taught her readers to expect better.

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-54035-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Nan A. Talese

Review Posted Online: July 1, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.


Over 50 years after an extraterrestrial microbe wiped out a small Arizona town, something very strange has appeared in the Amazon jungle in Wilson’s follow-up to Crichton’s The Andromeda Strain.

The microparticle's introduction to Earth in 1967 was the disastrous result of an American weapons research program. Before it could be contained, Andromeda killed all but two people in tiny Piedmont, Arizona; during testing after the disaster, AS-1 evolved and escaped into the atmosphere. Project Eternal Vigilance was quickly set up to scan for any possible new outbreaks of Andromeda. Now, an anomaly with “signature peaks” closely resembling the original Andromeda Strain has been spotted in the heart of the Amazon, and a Wildfire Alert is issued. A diverse team is assembled: Nidhi Vedala, an MIT nanotechnology expert born in a Mumbai slum; Harold Odhiambo, a Kenyan xenogeologist; Peng Wu, a Chinese doctor and taikonaut; Sophie Kline, a paraplegic astronaut and nanorobotics expert based on the International Space Station; and, a last-minute addition, roboticist James Stone, son of Dr. Jeremy Stone from The Andromeda Strain. They must journey into the deepest part of the jungle to study and hopefully contain the dire threat that the anomaly seemingly poses to humanity. But the jungle has its own dangers, and it’s not long before distrust and suspicion grip the team. They’ll need to come together to take on what waits for them inside a mysterious structure that may not be of this world. Setting the story over the course of five days, Wilson (Robopocalypse, 2011, etc.) combines the best elements of hard SF novels and techno-thrillers, using recovered video, audio, and interview transcripts to shape the narrative, with his own robotics expertise adding flavor and heft. Despite a bit of acronym overload, this is an atmospheric and often terrifying roller-coaster ride with (literally) sky-high stakes that pays plenty of homage to The Andromeda Strain while also echoing the spirit and mood of Crichton’s other works, such as Jurassic Park and Congo. Add more than a few twists and exciting set pieces (especially in the finale) to the mix, and you’ve got a winner.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel to the 1969 classic.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247327-1

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Nov. 25, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2019

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A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

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Manic parodist Moore, fresh off a season in 1947 San Francisco (Noir, 2018), returns with a rare gift for Shakespeare fans who think A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be perfect if only it were a little more madcap.

Cast adrift by pirates together with his apprentice, halfwit giant Drool, and Jeff, his barely less intelligent monkey, Pocket of Dog Snogging upon Ouze, jester to the late King Lear, washes ashore in Shakespeare’s Athens, where Cobweb, a squirrel by day and fairy by night, takes him under her wing and other parts. Soon after he encounters Robin Goodfellow (the Puck), jester to shadow king Oberon, and Nick Bottom and the other clueless mechanicals rehearsing Pyramus and Thisby in a nearby forest before they present it in celebration of the wedding of Theseus, Duke of Athens, to Hippolyta, the captive Amazon queen who’s captured his heart, Pocket (The Serpent of Venice, 2014, etc.) finds Robin fatally shot by an arrow. Suspected briefly of the murder himself, he’s commissioned, first by Hippolyta, then by the unwitting Theseus, to identify the Puck’s killer. Oh, and Egeus, the Duke’s steward, wants him to find and execute Lysander, who’s run off with Egeus’ daughter, Hermia, instead of marrying Helena, who’s in love with Demetrius. As English majors can attest, a remarkable amount of this madness can already be found in Shakespeare’s play. Moore’s contribution is to amp up the couplings, bawdy language, violence, and metatextual analogies between the royals, the fairies, the mechanicals, his own interloping hero, and any number of other plays by the Bard.

A kicky, kinky, wildly inventive 21st-century mashup with franker language and a higher body count than Hamlet.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-243402-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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