Distinctive and disturbing imagery; familiar diagnoses.

GOLD RUSH

A violent teenaged boy darts to adulthood in Yokohama, a mural of hell in bestselling Yu’s forceful if uneven English-language debut.

Blood rushing to his head, 14-year-old Kazuki Yuminaga seizes a golf club and splits open the head of a Doberman. Did cocaine trigger the outburst? Or was it Kazuki’s perpetually boiling rage and his drive to seize power, the elixir he feels will make him a man? Confronting his uncouth father, Kazuki next drives a sword into the man’s back and kills him. With the body stashed under a floor in his home, Kazuki embarks on his life as an adult. The nascent monster tries to overtake Vegas, his father’s gaming house, by threatening its workers. And he colludes with his father’s mistress, who seduces and then blackmails him. Amid these moments of squalor and menace come startling contrasts. Kazuki initially finds tenderness with Kyoko, a young woman who cares for his retarded brother Koki. Yu skillfully maintains a feverish tone until the end—when, reaching for insight into Kazuki’s mind, she slips at times from stunning surrealism into flat sociology that turns up awkwardly, nudging the narrative toward judgment. Studying Kazuki, a family friend observes, “That’s why society sets boundaries, eighteen or twenty years old, and says that’s when a person reaches adulthood; and that’s why certain things are forbidden to children who haven’t reached that age. . . .” But for Kazuki, the horror of a world in which dark dreams bleed into reality can’t be parsed so simply. With Kyoko and Koki holding his hands, he poses for a snapshot where another person once photographed him with his father and mother. This time, Kazuki feels that “everything inside his head was exposed.”

Distinctive and disturbing imagery; familiar diagnoses.

Pub Date: May 1, 2001

ISBN: 1-56649-155-X

Page Count: 288

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2002

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Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
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  • New York Times Bestseller

  • Pulitzer Prize Winner

  • National Book Award Finalist

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE

Doerr presents us with two intricate stories, both of which take place during World War II; late in the novel, inevitably, they intersect.

In August 1944, Marie-Laure LeBlanc is a blind 16-year-old living in the walled port city of Saint-Malo in Brittany and hoping to escape the effects of Allied bombing. D-Day took place two months earlier, and Cherbourg, Caen and Rennes have already been liberated. She’s taken refuge in this city with her great-uncle Etienne, at first a fairly frightening figure to her. Marie-Laure’s father was a locksmith and craftsman who made scale models of cities that Marie-Laure studied so she could travel around on her own. He also crafted clever and intricate boxes, within which treasures could be hidden. Parallel to the story of Marie-Laure we meet Werner and Jutta Pfennig, a brother and sister, both orphans who have been raised in the Children’s House outside Essen, in Germany. Through flashbacks we learn that Werner had been a curious and bright child who developed an obsession with radio transmitters and receivers, both in their infancies during this period. Eventually, Werner goes to a select technical school and then, at 18, into the Wehrmacht, where his technical aptitudes are recognized and he’s put on a team trying to track down illegal radio transmissions. Etienne and Marie-Laure are responsible for some of these transmissions, but Werner is intrigued since what she’s broadcasting is innocent—she shares her passion for Jules Verne by reading aloud 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. A further subplot involves Marie-Laure’s father’s having hidden a valuable diamond, one being tracked down by Reinhold von Rumpel, a relentless German sergeant-major.

Doerr captures the sights and sounds of wartime and focuses, refreshingly, on the innate goodness of his major characters.

Pub Date: May 6, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4767-4658-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: March 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

CONVERSATIONS WITH FRIENDS

The story of the entangled affairs of a group of exceedingly smart and self-possessed creative types.

Frances, an aloof and intelligent 21-year-old living in Dublin, is an aspiring poet and communist. She performs her spoken-word pieces with her best friend and ex-lover, Bobbi, who is equally intellectual but gregarious where Frances is shy and composed where Frances is awkward. When Melissa, a notable writer and photographer, approaches the pair to offer to do a profile of them, they accept excitedly. While Bobbi is taken with Melissa, Frances becomes infatuated by her life—her success, her beautiful home, her actor husband, Nick. Nick is handsome and mysterious and, it turns out, returns Frances’ attraction. Although he can sometimes be withholding of his affection (he struggles with depression), they begin a passionate affair. Frances and Nick’s relationship makes difficult the already tense (for its intensity) relationship between Frances and Bobbi. In the midst of this complicated dynamic, Frances is also managing endometriosis and neglectful parents—an abusive, alcoholic father and complicit mother. As a narrator, Frances describes all these complex fragments in an ethereal and thoughtful but self-loathing way. Rooney captures the mood and voice of contemporary women and their interpersonal connections and concerns without being remotely predictable. In her debut novel, she deftly illustrates psychology’s first lesson: that everyone is doomed to repeat their patterns.

A clever and current book about a complicated woman and her romantic relationships.

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-451-49905-9

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Hogarth

Review Posted Online: April 18, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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