A creepily convincing depiction of the marriage of corporate power and celebrity worship.

THE AUCTION

In Galvin’s future-fiction novel, everyone’s value is determined by how much corporations bid for them.

Sasha Cross, the look-alike daughter of a famous deceased actor, faces an unpleasant situation as she comes of age in a dystopian future. “I’m about to turn twenty-two,” she says, “yet I have no say in what happens to me.” At 22, citizens are auctioned off to corporate entities who will pay retirement benefits to their parents while reaping 25% of their lifelong income. People are ranked—the elite A’s, professional B’s, middle-class C’s, and laborer D’s. Ambitious parents become “asset managers” as they try to maximize their children’s potential earnings in order to ensure their own security. As Sasha tries to negotiate a future where she can find some meaning outside the artificial glamour of Los Angeles celebrity, she struggles to avoid being exploited by those seeking to profit from her resemblance to her adored mother, including her social-climbing friend Brianna and even her own father, who forces her to participate in a reality show about her auction experience. One of her only supporters is her childhood friend Jason, a prominent video game basketball star. Jason, however, faces his own demons in the form of alcoholism and his relationship with a felon who is determined to drag Jason into his illegal schemes. Galvin’s dystopian vision of a celebrity-obsessed society isn’t new, but it’s exceptionally well realized. Thoughtful social critique, romance, friendship, and family dysfunction play out among a complex cast of characters. Other pluses include a taut storyline of corporate ruthlessness versus grassroots resistance and fantastic SF imaginings—from the wholesale insertion of tracking chips to a massive underground system of organ harvesting.  

A creepily convincing depiction of the marriage of corporate power and celebrity worship.

Pub Date: Oct. 19, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-73751-500-5

Page Count: 328

Publisher: Drexel Books

Review Posted Online: Oct. 15, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2021

Did you like this book?

Well-drawn characters introduce the criminal underworld to the occult kind in a breathless and compelling plot.

HELL BENT

From the Alex Stern series , Vol. 2

A Yale sophomore fights for her life as she balances academics with supernatural extracurriculars in this smart fantasy thriller, the second in a series.

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is a member of Lethe House, the ninth of Yale’s secret societies. And not just any member—she’s Virgil, the officer who conducts the society's rituals. In the world of Bardugo’s Alex Stern series, Yale’s secret societies command not just powerful social networks, but actual magic; it’s Lethe’s job to keep that magic in control. Alex is new to the role. She had to take over in a hurry after the previous Virgil, Darlington, her mentor and love interest, disappeared in a cliffhanger at the end of the first book. He appears to be in hell, but is he stuck there for good? Alex and Pamela Dawes—Lethe’s Oculus, or archivist/administrator—have found a reference to a pathway called a Gauntlet that can open a portal to hell, but can they find the Gauntlet itself? And what about the four murderers the Gauntlet ritual requires? Meanwhile, Alex’s past as a small-time drug dealer is catching up with her, adding gritty street crime to the demonic white-collar evil the Yale crowd tends to prefer. The plot is relentless and clever, and the writing is vivid, intelligent, and funny at just the right moments, but best of all are the complex characters, such as the four murderers, each with a backstory that makes it possible for the reader to trust them to enter hell and have the strength to leave again. Like the first book, this one ends with a cliffhanger.

Well-drawn characters introduce the criminal underworld to the occult kind in a breathless and compelling plot.

Pub Date: Jan. 10, 2023

ISBN: 978-1-250-31310-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Review Posted Online: Nov. 16, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2022

Did you like this book?

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Reader Votes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT

  • New York Times Bestseller

FAIRY TALE

Narnia on the Penobscot: a grand, and naturally strange, entertainment from the ever prolific King.

What’s a person to do when sheltering from Covid? In King’s case, write something to entertain himself while reflecting on what was going on in the world outside—ravaged cities, contentious politics, uncertainty. King’s yarn begins in a world that’s recognizably ours, and with a familiar trope: A young woman, out to buy fried chicken, is mashed by a runaway plumber’s van, sending her husband into an alcoholic tailspin and her son into a preadolescent funk, driven “bugfuck” by a father who “was always trying to apologize.” The son makes good by rescuing an elderly neighbor who’s fallen off a ladder, though he protests that the man’s equally elderly German shepherd, Radar, was the true hero. Whatever the case, Mr. Bowditch has an improbable trove of gold in his Bates Motel of a home, and its origin seems to lie in a shed behind the house, one that Mr. Bowditch warns the boy away from: “ ‘Don’t go in there,’ he said. ‘You may in time, but for now don’t even think of it.’ ” It’s not Pennywise who awaits in the underworld behind the shed door, but there’s plenty that’s weird and unexpected, including a woman, Dora, whose “skin was slate gray and her face was cruelly deformed,” and a whole bunch of people—well, sort of people, anyway—who’d like nothing better than to bring their special brand of evil up to our world’s surface. King’s young protagonist, Charlie Reade, is resourceful beyond his years, but it helps that the old dog gains some of its youthful vigor in the depths below. King delivers a more or less traditional fable that includes a knowing nod: “I think I know what you want,” Charlie tells the reader, "and now you have it”—namely, a happy ending but with a suitably sardonic wink.

A tale that’s at once familiar and full of odd and unexpected twists—vintage King, in other words.

Pub Date: Sept. 6, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-66800-217-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: June 22, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2022

Did you like this book?

more