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NEXT TIME I SEE YOU

A sometimes-derivative but delightfully suspenseful thriller.

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In this sci-fi novel, a young woman suffering from depression turns to time travel to save her murdered boyfriend.

After Kat Chambers’ significant other, Michael, is killed in a mass shooting, she drops out of the University of Colorado Boulder, hardly eats, and rarely leaves her room. After her best friend, Cathie, forces her to go outside and get some air, Kat feels inexplicably compelled to follow a mysterious stranger. He leads her to a physics lecture at the university, where Dr. Marcus Mallory discusses his project to build a time machine. Kat begins obsessively concocting a plan to go from her present, September 2017, to March 2016, so that she can kill the person who would later shoot Michael, and thus save her boyfriend’s life. She contacts Michael’s friend Jeff Newton, a physics graduate student, intending to use him to get access to the time machine. However, he’s convinced that time travel could have disastrous effects on the present. If Kat’s plan succeeds, she’ll have to locate the (future) killer, get him alone, and evade the watchful eyes of another physicist, and do it all within 11 days, or she’ll be trapped in the past. Kat also has to consider whether she’s truly willing to commit murder—even to save her own future. Bell’s (How Dark the Light Shines, 2015, etc.) depiction of her self-conscious characters occasionally seems to draw on millennial stereotypes, but the novel’s fast-paced plot builds suspense and is consistently entertaining. Also, early on, Kat’s inability to care for herself and irrational thinking patterns provide readers with an unglamorous and uncomfortably real glimpse of the aftermath of trauma. The young protagonist and conversational prose style will likely appeal to fans of YA fiction, as well. An unoriginal romance subplot is far less compelling, though, and although the mass-shooter storyline is gripping, it fails to investigate the killer’s motive in a meaningful way.

A sometimes-derivative but delightfully suspenseful thriller.

Pub Date: June 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-692-12918-0

Page Count: 245

Publisher: MTB Publishing, Inc. LLC

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2019

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A LITTLE LIFE

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. 21, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

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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