A creative and repetitive analysis of our collective infatuation with glowing screens.

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GRID CITY OVERLOAD

A story of near-future distress from author Bramble (Affliction Included, 2009).

The futuristic town of Grid City, Colo., is every bit as cold and melancholy as the name would imply. Full of neon corporate logos, industrial pollution and an unvaryingly unhappy population, Grid City encompasses all that people who fret about the future of American cities are worried about. Within this maze of despair are a handful of characters that range from a drug-addicted used car salesman who will latch on to anyone resembling a father figure to a stunningly sexy, evil computer expert who will latch on to anyone she can control. In alternating narratives, the novel plumbs the lives of these characters as they lose themselves in drugs and technological advances in an effort to block out all the noise around them and find out who they really are. This proves easier said than done. The people of Grid City (and presumably much of the world’s population circa 2025) are not just more interested in looking at their electronic devices than the real world, at times the gadgets assume a life of their own. In the book’s most inventive section, one particularly lonely and paranoid character manages to carry on a love affair with a cellphone. Other sections prove far less inventive as again and again, people who were born human become altered due to the constant barrage of devices and “sensory overflow.” The average reader is likely to recognize a world where even upscale, busy waiters feel the need to check their phones continually. Whether they get their highs from drugs or political corruption, there are not many characters to root for in Grid City, so the reader is left largely indifferent to their fates. Though spiced up with Pynchon-esque flourishes, these tangents add only to the already-obvious message of people drowning in technology.

A creative and repetitive analysis of our collective infatuation with glowing screens.

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1475295931

Page Count: 482

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Sept. 6, 2012

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Slow moving and richly layered.

THE SEARCHER

A retired cop takes one last case in this stand-alone novel from the creator of the Dublin Murder Squad.

Originally from North Carolina, Cal Hooper has spent the last 30 years in Chicago. “A small place. A small town in a small country”: That’s what he’s searching for when he moves to the West of Ireland. His daughter is grown, his wife has left him, so Cal is on his own—until a kid named Trey starts hanging around. Trey’s brother is missing. Everyone believes that Brendan has run off just like his father did, but Trey thinks there’s more to the story than just another young man leaving his family behind in search of money and excitement in the city. Trey wants the police detective who just emigrated from America to find out what’s really happened to Brendan. French is deploying a well-worn trope here—in fact, she’s deploying a few. Cal is a new arrival to an insular community, and he’s about to discover that he didn’t leave crime and violence behind when he left the big city. Cal is a complex enough character, though, and it turns out that the mystery he’s trying to solve is less shocking than what he ultimately discovers. French's latest is neither fast-paced nor action-packed, and it has as much to do with Cal’s inner life as it does with finding Brendan. Much of what mystery readers are looking for in terms of action is squeezed into the last third of the novel, and the morally ambiguous ending may be unsatisfying for some. But French’s fans have surely come to expect imperfect allegiance to genre conventions, and the author does, ultimately, deliver plenty of twists, shocking revelations, and truly chilling moments.

Slow moving and richly layered.

Pub Date: Oct. 6, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-73-522465-0

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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