A novel that skillfully captures the gloominess of drug addiction but leaves little space for even a glimmer of hope.


Junkie, Indiana

A sepulchral novel about a family legacy of drugs, crime, and hopelessness.

Paul Stocker’s mother is a heroin addict, and he was born on the street, already addled by ceaseless cravings for the drug. He was also born physically debilitated—unable to walk or speak and permanently confined to a wheelchair with limited use of his arms. Paul’s cousins, Jordan and Adam, are also junkies and spend their days either languorously high or frenetically looking for money to pay for their next fixes. Paul, the narrator of this nihilistic tale, distinguishes Adam’s cynicism from Jordan’s tender boyishness, but both are essentially amoral, too addled by their addictions to make room for empathy or principles in their lives. They both cycle in and out of jail for all manner of petty larceny—sometimes in cahoots with their mothers—and each is prepared to snitch on the other. Paul dispassionately describes the depravity, detailing Adam and Jordan’s robbery and beating of an old man as if it’s the most quotidian act. Paul is capable of experiencing horror, though, so he loses himself in reading—a cerebral refuge from the squalor. When Jordan gleefully rapes a young girl in front of him, Paul reflexively chooses to “make fives,” a version of counting sheep that allows him some needed distraction. Overall, Paul is less a protagonist than a narrative medium—a passive witness to human degradation and sometimes a participant, tagging along to a burglary and other mayhem. Debut author Meyers has a knack for depicting the gruesome depths of human existence, which seems even uglier because it unfurls so listlessly. He also ably describes Chuterville, the former boomtown that serves as the stage for this salaciousness; once bankrolled by J.P. Morgan, it’s now little more than a market for the drug trade—“to all intents and purposes, a narcopolis.” There’s virtually no plot, however, which mirrors the purposeless meandering of the characters but will likely bore readers. Worse, there’s no joy, and that relentless deprivation makes this short novel an exhausting read.

A novel that skillfully captures the gloominess of drug addiction but leaves little space for even a glimmer of hope. 

Pub Date: N/A


Page Count: -

Publisher: Booklocker

Review Posted Online: June 8, 2016

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A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.


Are we not men? We are—well, ask Bigfoot, as Brooks does in this delightful yarn, following on his bestseller World War Z (2006).

A zombie apocalypse is one thing. A volcanic eruption is quite another, for, as the journalist who does a framing voice-over narration for Brooks’ latest puts it, when Mount Rainier popped its cork, “it was the psychological aspect, the hyperbole-fueled hysteria that had ended up killing the most people.” Maybe, but the sasquatches whom the volcano displaced contributed to the statistics, too, if only out of self-defense. Brooks places the epicenter of the Bigfoot war in a high-tech hideaway populated by the kind of people you might find in a Jurassic Park franchise: the schmo who doesn’t know how to do much of anything but tries anyway, the well-intentioned bleeding heart, the know-it-all intellectual who turns out to know the wrong things, the immigrant with a tough backstory and an instinct for survival. Indeed, the novel does double duty as a survival manual, packed full of good advice—for instance, try not to get wounded, for “injury turns you from a giver to a taker. Taking up our resources, our time to care for you.” Brooks presents a case for making room for Bigfoot in the world while peppering his narrative with timely social criticism about bad behavior on the human side of the conflict: The explosion of Rainier might have been better forecast had the president not slashed the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey, leading to “immediate suspension of the National Volcano Early Warning System,” and there’s always someone around looking to monetize the natural disaster and the sasquatch-y onslaught that follows. Brooks is a pro at building suspense even if it plays out in some rather spectacularly yucky episodes, one involving a short spear that takes its name from “the sucking sound of pulling it out of the dead man’s heart and lungs.” Grossness aside, it puts you right there on the scene.

A tasty, if not always tasteful, tale of supernatural mayhem that fans of King and Crichton alike will enjoy.

Pub Date: June 16, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-2678-7

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: Feb. 10, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

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Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

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Inseparable identical twin sisters ditch home together, and then one decides to vanish.

The talented Bennett fuels her fiction with secrets—first in her lauded debut, The Mothers (2016), and now in the assured and magnetic story of the Vignes sisters, light-skinned women parked on opposite sides of the color line. Desiree, the “fidgety twin,” and Stella, “a smart, careful girl,” make their break from stultifying rural Mallard, Louisiana, becoming 16-year-old runaways in 1954 New Orleans. The novel opens 14 years later as Desiree, fleeing a violent marriage in D.C., returns home with a different relative: her 8-year-old daughter, Jude. The gossips are agog: “In Mallard, nobody married dark....Marrying a dark man and dragging his blueblack child all over town was one step too far.” Desiree's decision seals Jude’s misery in this “colorstruck” place and propels a new generation of flight: Jude escapes on a track scholarship to UCLA. Tending bar as a side job in Beverly Hills, she catches a glimpse of her mother’s doppelgänger. Stella, ensconced in white society, is shedding her fur coat. Jude, so black that strangers routinely stare, is unrecognizable to her aunt. All this is expertly paced, unfurling before the book is half finished; a reader can guess what is coming. Bennett is deeply engaged in the unknowability of other people and the scourge of colorism. The scene in which Stella adopts her white persona is a tour de force of doubling and confusion. It calls up Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, the book's 50-year-old antecedent. Bennett's novel plays with its characters' nagging feelings of being incomplete—for the twins without each other; for Jude’s boyfriend, Reese, who is trans and seeks surgery; for their friend Barry, who performs in drag as Bianca. Bennett keeps all these plot threads thrumming and her social commentary crisp. In the second half, Jude spars with her cousin Kennedy, Stella's daughter, a spoiled actress.

Kin “[find] each other’s lives inscrutable” in this rich, sharp story about the way identity is formed.

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-525-53629-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Riverhead

Review Posted Online: March 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

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