IDORU

Cyberspace and virtual-reality guru Gibson's new venture is set in the same near-future as Virtual Light (1993) and has at least one of the characters in common. "Netrunner" Colin Laney has an unusual ability to see "nodal points," ordinarily imperceptible data associations. Indirectly, he's hired by scarred, giant Keith Alan Blackweli, Rez's fiercely protective security chief—Rez being the half-Irish singer of superstar band Lo/Rez. Blackwell is concerned that someone may be trying to manipulate his boss, Rez having expressed his determination to marry Rei Toei, a Japanese idoru—a computer personality-construct{ From Seattle, meanwhile, 14-year-old Chia McKenzie is sent by her local Lo/Rez fan club to Japan to investigate a peculiar rumor about Rez and a certain idoru. On the plane she meets weird Maryalice, who dupes Chia into smuggling a dangerous package through customs—though when Maryalice starts fighting with her boyfriend Eddie, Chia flees with the package. Laney, unable to work with insufficient and impersonal data, insists on meeting Rez, whereupon he's captivated by Rei Toei. Eddie's Russian gangster friends demand their package, and assuming that Chia, Rez, and Laney are connected, hunt Chia. With violence occurring and worse to follow, only some nifty computer work by Laney and by Chia and her friends averts disaster; helpfully, Rex proposes to exchange the package for some real estate. Markedly more relaxed and cordial, and less aggressively high-tech, than hitherto—even the plotting's improved: highly approachable, engaging, and persuasive.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-399-14130-8

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Putnam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1996

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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