A sometimes-derivative but delightfully suspenseful thriller.


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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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 strict report, worthy of sympathy.


A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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