A literate, ironic, strangely tasty treat for fans of 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, The Last Man on Earth and other...

WORLD WAR Z

AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE ZOMBIE WAR

An “oral history” of the global war the evil brain-chewers came within a hair of winning.

Zombies are among us—turn on your television if you don’t believe it. But, Brooks reassures us in this all-too-realistic novel, even today, human fighters are hunting down the leftovers, and we’re winning. Brooks (The Zombie Survival Guide, not reviewed) seeds his mockumentary with smart nods to the chains of cause and effect that spring from today’s headlines. Like the avian flu, one CIA agent tells the interviewer, the zombie plague began in China, whose government embarked on a campaign of “health and safety” sweeps (“Instead of lying about the sweeps themselves, they just lied about what they were sweeping for”) to contain the endless armies of the moaning, walking dead. It didn’t work. Ear to the ground, Israel quarantined itself—it helped that it had that tall new wall. Greece, Japan, England: Every center of world civilization was overrun, with notable pockets of resistance. In England, for example, the queen stayed in Windsor Castle, the most easily defended bastion in the realm, to steel the hearts of her subjects. Who says the royal family is a relic? Finally, the zombies come to North America, where, after the disastrous Battle of Yonkers, the humans regroup and take their pound of extremely icky flesh in vengeance; even Michael Stipe, the antiwar rock singer, signs up to kick zombie butt. Brooks’s iron-jaw narrative is studded with practical advice on what to do when the zombies come, as they surely will. For one thing, check to see who doesn’t blink (“Maybe because they don’t have as much bodily fluid they can’t keep using it to coat the eyes”), aim for the head and blast away.

A literate, ironic, strangely tasty treat for fans of 28 Days Later, Dawn of the Dead, The Last Man on Earth and other treasures of the zombie/counterzombie genre.

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-307-34660-9

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2006

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Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her...

DISTANT SHORES

Another middle-aged mom in a muddle.

After years of false starts and big hopes, Elizabeth’s ruggedly handsome husband Jack, a former football star, just landed a spot as a sportscaster on national news. He still loves her, even though much younger women are giving him come-hither looks. Heck, he doesn’t want to betray the love of his life after she helped him kick drugs and stuck by him even when he was a struggling has-been. And won’t it seem hypocritical if he fools around with his sexy assistant while he does in-depth reporting on a rape case involving a famous basketball center? Well, he fools around anyway. Elizabeth, nicknamed Birdie, knows nothing of this, but she withdraws from Jack when her hard-drinking, salt-of-the-earth father has a stroke and dies. Now no one will call her “sugar beet” ever again. Time to return home to Tennessee and contend with Anita, the sort-of-evil stepmother so trashy she wears pink puffy slippers all day long. Naturally, it turns out that Anita actually has a heart of gold and knows a few things about Birdie’s dead mother that were hushed up for years. Mom was an artist, just like Birdie, and an old scandal comes to light as Anita unrolls a vibrant canvas that portrays her secret lover. Perhaps, Birdie muses, her mother died of heartbreak, never having followed her true love or developed her talent. Has she, too, compromised everything she holds dear? Hoping to find out, Birdie joins a support group that promises to reconnect confused women with their passion. She and Jack separate, prompting a how-dare-you fit from their grown daughters. Will Birdie fly her empty nest? Will she go back to college for a degree in art? Will her brooding watercolors ever sell?

Soft-focus story moves right along with few surprises. This time around, Hannah avoids the soap-opera complications of her previous tales (Summer Island, 2001, etc.).

Pub Date: July 1, 2002

ISBN: 0-345-45071-X

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2002

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The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

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A LITTLE LIFE

Four men who meet as college roommates move to New York and spend the next three decades gaining renown in their professions—as an architect, painter, actor and lawyer—and struggling with demons in their intertwined personal lives.

Yanagihara (The People in the Trees, 2013) takes the still-bold leap of writing about characters who don’t share her background; in addition to being male, JB is African-American, Malcolm has a black father and white mother, Willem is white, and “Jude’s race was undetermined”—deserted at birth, he was raised in a monastery and had an unspeakably traumatic childhood that’s revealed slowly over the course of the book. Two of them are gay, one straight and one bisexual. There isn’t a single significant female character, and for a long novel, there isn’t much plot. There aren’t even many markers of what’s happening in the outside world; Jude moves to a loft in SoHo as a young man, but we don’t see the neighborhood change from gritty artists’ enclave to glitzy tourist destination. What we get instead is an intensely interior look at the friends’ psyches and relationships, and it’s utterly enthralling. The four men think about work and creativity and success and failure; they cook for each other, compete with each other and jostle for each other’s affection. JB bases his entire artistic career on painting portraits of his friends, while Malcolm takes care of them by designing their apartments and houses. When Jude, as an adult, is adopted by his favorite Harvard law professor, his friends join him for Thanksgiving in Cambridge every year. And when Willem becomes a movie star, they all bask in his glow. Eventually, the tone darkens and the story narrows to focus on Jude as the pain of his past cuts deep into his carefully constructed life.  

The phrase “tour de force” could have been invented for this audacious novel.

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-53925-8

Page Count: 720

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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