An intriguing but ultimately underwhelming architecture tale.

THE FREEDOM BUILDING

An architect wakes up unable to remember the last three years—the most successful of his career—in this debut novel.

When the Zenith Star building in downtown Blanworth is destroyed in a terrorist attack, local architect John Gowan isn’t overly upset. In fact, John jokes that it was probably an architect who blew up the ugly glass tower. He wonders who will get the contract to build the replacement, though his partner, Pete Williams, assures him it will be a bigger firm than theirs. Even so, John begins to fantasize about the building he would put on the site if given the chance. Following a car accident, John awakes in a hospital bed, assuming a day has passed at most. It turns out that it’s actually been three and a half years. But John hasn’t been in a coma the whole time: During the elapsed period, he actually managed to win the contract to replace the Zenith Star building. “Three and a half years ago,” he reads incredulously in the newspaper, “after the destruction of the old Zenith Star building, the little-known architect John Gowan had a dream to design a new building that might not only restore Blanworth’s city skyline” but revolutionize it. The new construction based on his design is scheduled to begin that same day. John simply has no memory of any of it. What’s more, when he tries to look at the image of his design in the paper, his vision becomes blurry. In fact, when he attempts to look at any blueprints or specs of the building, he is simply incapable of seeing them. Struggling to keep his condition a secret, John sets out to discover exactly what happened to him to cause him to lose his memory, unveiling a mystery that is much deeper than any terrorist conspiracy. Kendall has concocted a nifty little puzzle, reminiscent of a plotline from The Twilight Zone or perhaps Black Mirror. But as pure literature, the book is somewhat problematic. The author attempts a heightened prose yet ends up using odd words and causing comprehension difficulties: “The town was set in a valley, and its dirty streets reflected a pale spring sun that scattered deadweight over the town. Red brick slums oozed false pride onto the entrapped town centre. Those who earned enough fled to the far-reaching countryside.” John is a flat and unlikable character, and while readers will be curious about what has caused his amnesia, they will have little affection for him personally due to his vanity and lack of empathy for others. He undergoes no Scrooge-like epiphany by the end; rather, the opinion of the author seems to be that John simply didn’t believe in himself enough (though even on this point, things aren’t clearly articulated). The lack of a compelling emotional core undermines the captivating premise, causing it all to feel like a thought exercise more than an immersive human experience. A book that clearly wants to be about something ends up being about not very much at all.

An intriguing but ultimately underwhelming architecture tale.

Pub Date: Dec. 3, 2019

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 218

Publisher: Self

Review Posted Online: Jan. 17, 2020

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Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...

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MAYBE SOMEDAY

Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson. 

Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty. 

Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.

Pub Date: March 18, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-5316-4

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 7, 2014

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Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

ALL YOUR PERFECTS

Named for an imperfectly worded fortune cookie, Hoover's (It Ends with Us, 2016, etc.) latest compares a woman’s relationship with her husband before and after she finds out she’s infertile.

Quinn meets her future husband, Graham, in front of her soon-to-be-ex-fiance’s apartment, where Graham is about to confront him for having an affair with his girlfriend. A few years later, they are happily married but struggling to conceive. The “then and now” format—with alternating chapters moving back and forth in time—allows a hopeful romance to blossom within a dark but relatable dilemma. Back then, Quinn’s bad breakup leads her to the love of her life. In the now, she’s exhausted a laundry list of fertility options, from IVF treatments to adoption, and the silver lining is harder to find. Quinn’s bad relationship with her wealthy mother also prevents her from asking for more money to throw at the problem. But just when Quinn’s narrative starts to sound like she’s writing a long Facebook rant about her struggles, she reveals the larger issue: Ever since she and Graham have been trying to have a baby, intimacy has become a chore, and she doesn’t know how to tell him. Instead, she hopes the contents of a mystery box she’s kept since their wedding day will help her decide their fate. With a few well-timed silences, Hoover turns the fairly common problem of infertility into the more universal problem of poor communication. Graham and Quinn may or may not become parents, but if they don’t talk about their feelings, they won’t remain a couple, either.

Finding positivity in negative pregnancy-test results, this depiction of a marriage in crisis is nearly perfect.

Pub Date: July 17, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5011-7159-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Atria

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2018

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