A spirited, gripping story with a truly exceptional protagonist.


A 12-year-old girl searches for her missing father in a post-apocalyptic world filled with monsters and violent humans in Cox’s (A Beginner’s Guide to Fangs, 2018, etc.) YA novel.

Wisp has rarely ever strayed from the wooded cabin where she lives alone with her dad. According to him, the outside world is dangerous—a place where angry Fire Dragons burned many people to ashes. Wisp finds solace in a corner beside some bookshelves in the cabin’s main living space, which she calls her “Haven.” There, she’s safe from the things that Dad has told her about, including monsters called Tree Walkers and human marauders that might force her into slavery. Wisp often stays in the Haven when Dad leaves to hunt or scavenge. But one day, he doesn’t return, and when Wisp ventures outside, all she finds is his rifle. She seeks guidance from her late mother, whom she believes watches over her, despite having gone to “the Other Place.” Armed with Dad’s guns and a knife, Wisp braves the unknown to find him—but a few shocking revelations await her. Cox presents the narrative entirely from Wisp’s point of view, resulting in an endlessly curious read. He depicts her as being fascinated by ordinary things, as when she sees a Jeep for the very first time, and he showcases her discoveries with exuberant prose: “She squeezed and gripped the padding, scuffing her feet back and forth on the soft floor, awestruck at how comfortable the ancients’ things had been.” He effectively balances the character’s endearing naïveté with her proficiency; she manages to survive on her own in the forest, procuring shelter and sustenance, while also ably fending off threats. The steadily paced narrative reveals information about what’s happened to the world at large as Wisp’s journey continues, and although readers may predict some plot turns, there are enough surprises to maintain interest.

A spirited, gripping story with a truly exceptional protagonist.

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-980227-75-5

Page Count: 292

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: May 30, 2018

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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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 first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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