Deeply unflattering but unsurprising picture of go-go finance and its practitioners; they’re mainly male, but Frankie is no...

STARFISHING

Quickly addicted to the adrenalin and the machismo of futures trading, an ambitious young woman’s life spirals out of control.

In late-1990s London, hard-nosed Frankie Cavanaugh lands her dream job as a trader in the open pit of the futures exchange. The setup is promising, in a Bret Easton Ellis way. Frankie, a tough girl who lost her mother young, is pretty, hard-partying, a hint reckless. Trading is a profession custom-made for a personality like hers, but it’s also perilous. Monaghan (The Killing Jar, 2007) captures the pell-mell euphoria of the trading floor and makes the reader believe that those who thrive here might have trouble resisting other rushes—like heavy drinking, drug-fueled nightclub binges, sexual gamesmanship, fisticuffs, thrill crimes. Frankie knows well the costs of getting involved with her boss: Newlywed American Tom is both good-looking and sexually rapacious, and although it’s not quite clear whether the reader is meant to find him appealing or monstrous, the balance tips heavily to the latter. As the affair intensifies, Frankie and Tom have to work harder to sate their taste for danger. They move from prankish shoplifting to more brazen thefts, and eventually to risking their lives for kicks; they graduate from wine to vodka-and-Red-Bull, then to cocaine, Ecstasy and finally LSD. The book founders in what Frankie calls her “not-so-hidden shallows.” These shallows aren’t just poorly hidden; they’re all there is. Frankie is thoughtless, self-absorbed and cruel, and so is virtually everyone else she encounters. Monaghan doesn’t help by introducing several preposterous plot twists of the made-for-movie-adaptation variety.

Deeply unflattering but unsurprising picture of go-go finance and its practitioners; they’re mainly male, but Frankie is no innocent led to the slaughter.

Pub Date: May 1, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4165-8906-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2010

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ANIMAL FARM

A FAIRY STORY

A modern day fable, with modern implications in a deceiving simplicity, by the author of Dickens. Dali and Others (Reynal & Hitchcock, p. 138), whose critical brilliance is well adapted to this type of satire. This tells of the revolt on a farm, against humans, when the pigs take over the intellectual superiority, training the horses, cows, sheep, etc., into acknowledging their greatness. The first hints come with the reading out of a pig who instigated the building of a windmill, so that the electric power would be theirs, the idea taken over by Napoleon who becomes topman with no maybes about it. Napoleon trains the young puppies to be his guards, dickers with humans, gradually instigates a reign of terror, and breaks the final commandment against any animal walking on two legs. The old faithful followers find themselves no better off for food and work than they were when man ruled them, learn their final disgrace when they see Napoleon and Squealer carousing with their enemies... A basic statement of the evils of dictatorship in that it not only corrupts the leaders, but deadens the intelligence and awareness of those led so that tyranny is inevitable. Mr. Orwell's animals exist in their own right, with a narrative as individual as it is apt in political parody.

Pub Date: Aug. 26, 1946

ISBN: 0452277507

Page Count: 114

Publisher: Harcourt, Brace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1946

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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