A thoughtful, trenchant adventure story.

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SUBTERRANEAN

In this dystopian novel, a counselor searches for his missing girlfriend, a tech heiress who was raised off the grid.

In America’s near future, Ronnie recently lost his job as a children’s librarian, and he was replaced by a robot. Now he has a new position, counseling people who have lost their jobs to robots. His first client is Colin, but they’ve barely started when RIFF23, Ronnie’s personal robot, informs him that his girlfriend, Hilary Francesca Mills, is missing. Ronnie and Hil haven’t spoken since they had a fight two days ago. Hil’s parents, despite owing their own wealth to a high-tech invention, the Selfie Mirror, kept their daughter away from all things “virtual.” Unlike anyone else Ronnie knows, Hil has never owned a smartphonelike Screen or created a social media profile; instead, the duo have communicated by landline (her phone number is 2). This makes Hil hard to track down, so Ronnie, RIFF23, and Colin go in search of her along with others whom they pick up along the way. Their investigations into fringe communities, such as UFO believers and 1990s rave re-enactors, suggest that Hil is at an anti-technology commune at Walden Pond called “HDT,” after Henry David Thoreau. Under the control of Johns Calum, a charismatic leader who’s also Hil’s ex-boyfriend, HDT has become a radical organization—and Johns has shady plans for Hil. A rescue operation develops, but will Hil be able to avoid becoming a pawn in Johns’ game? In her debut novel, Colombo tells an absorbing adventure yarn that satirizes American society by exaggerating the relentless logging of personal experiences on Instagram and other social media platforms. In this future world, people are obsessed with TV shows such as The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; one rich man decorates his yard to resemble a graveyard in the latter’s town of Sunnydale. Although the satire is effective, it’s also a bit disappointing not to see a fresher, more forward-looking vision of the future. Still, Colombo’s characterization is strong; the portrait of HDT’s founder, Losi West, is especially well-rounded and poignant. Also, the author’s portrayal of the universal desire for connection is vividly real, moving, and relatable.

A thoughtful, trenchant adventure story.

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-9997862-3-9

Page Count: 260

Publisher: Spaceboy Books

Review Posted Online: Aug. 13, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2018

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A perfectly balanced portrait of the human condition, encompassing plenty of anger, cruelty and loss without ever losing...

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  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

OLIVE KITTERIDGE

A NOVEL IN STORIES

The abrasive, vulnerable title character sometimes stands center stage, sometimes plays a supporting role in these 13 sharply observed dramas of small-town life from Strout (Abide with Me, 2006, etc.).

Olive Kitteridge certainly makes a formidable contrast with her gentle, quietly cheerful husband Henry from the moment we meet them both in “Pharmacy,” which introduces us to several other denizens of Crosby, Maine. Though she was a math teacher before she and Henry retired, she’s not exactly patient with shy young people—or anyone else. Yet she brusquely comforts suicidal Kevin Coulson in “Incoming Tide” with the news that her father, like Kevin’s mother, killed himself. And she does her best to help anorexic Nina in “Starving,” though Olive knows that the troubled girl is not the only person in Crosby hungry for love. Children disappoint, spouses are unfaithful and almost everyone is lonely at least some of the time in Strout’s rueful tales. The Kitteridges’ son Christopher marries, moves to California and divorces, but he doesn’t come home to the house his parents built for him, causing deep resentments to fester around the borders of Olive’s carefully tended garden. Tensions simmer in all the families here; even the genuinely loving couple in “Winter Concert” has a painful betrayal in its past. References to Iraq and 9/11 provide a somber context, but the real dangers here are personal: aging, the loss of love, the imminence of death. Nonetheless, Strout’s sensitive insights and luminous prose affirm life’s pleasures, as elderly, widowed Olive thinks, “It baffled her, the world. She did not want to leave it yet.”

A perfectly balanced portrait of the human condition, encompassing plenty of anger, cruelty and loss without ever losing sight of the equally powerful presences of tenderness, shared pursuits and lifelong loyalty.

Pub Date: April 15, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4000-6208-9

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2008

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A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy,...

THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHT-TIME

Britisher Haddon debuts in the adult novel with the bittersweet tale of a 15-year-old autistic who’s also a math genius.

Christopher Boone has had some bad knocks: his mother has died (well, she went to the hospital and never came back), and soon after he found a neighbor’s dog on the front lawn, slain by a garden fork stuck through it. A teacher said that he should write something that he “would like to read himself”—and so he embarks on this book, a murder mystery that will reveal who killed Mrs. Shears’s dog. First off, though, is a night in jail for hitting the policeman who questions him about the dog (the cop made the mistake of grabbing the boy by the arm when he can’t stand to be touched—any more than he can stand the colors yellow or brown, or not knowing what’s going to happen next). Christopher’s father bails him out but forbids his doing any more “detecting” about the dog-murder. When Christopher disobeys (and writes about it in his book), a fight ensues and his father confiscates the book. In time, detective-Christopher finds it, along with certain other clues that reveal a very great deal indeed about his mother’s “death,” his father’s own part in it—and the murder of the dog. Calming himself by doing roots, cubes, prime numbers, and math problems in his head, Christopher runs away, braves a train-ride to London, and finds—his mother. How can this be? Read and see. Neither parent, if truth be told, is the least bit prepossessing or more than a cutout. Christopher, though, with pet rat Toby in his pocket and advanced “maths” in his head, is another matter indeed, and readers will cheer when, way precociously, he takes his A-level maths and does brilliantly.

A kind of Holden Caulfield who speaks bravely and winningly from inside the sorrows of autism: wonderful, simple, easy, moving, and likely to be a smash.

Pub Date: June 17, 2003

ISBN: 0-385-50945-6

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2003

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