RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe novel uses creative structural tactics that break up Arc’s narration ... McDaniel’s sentences are often striking, ethereal and transcendent ... After 454 pages of searing pain... I felt distinctly depleted — but alongside that exhaustion came an undeniable sense of wonder. McDaniel pulls off an impressive twist at the finale, with a plot shift that might inspire you to start the book again if your nervous system can handle it. And of course, the killer is not the point. We read for the women, the dismal yet beatific textures of their lives.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewElegant ... Tate’s work takes a sanctioned vision of suburbia and transforms it ... Tate uses these timeworn questions as a springboard for a larger examination of trauma and memory. But right when I thought I could predict this novel’s arc, it surprised me ... A creative leap with manifold payoffs, heightening the book’s ambition ... By the end, Brutes feels wonderfully untethered, wild and unpredictable. The novel is an exploration of adolescent trauma and its otherworldly manifestations rather than a retelling of a trope.
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHershon maintains a quiet terror throughout this slim, eccentric novel. Though it moves at a harrowing pace, this is not a traditional thriller ... a painful read at times; you feel almost itchy, wondering whether it’s possible for Sarah to reconnect with Kiki while also hiding the most vulnerable part of herself ... the book begins and ends with disjointed encounters that do not culminate in a clean sense of narrative arc. This can feel disconcerting, as characters are introduced one by one — some returning, others disappearing entirely. Some have a profound effect on Sarah, others she never considers again. Readers may be ambivalent about the sheer number of strangers she encounters; or wonder why Hershon includes these apparitions at all. Dynamics between the couples are messy throughout, jolting and awkward, sometimes confusing. The book does not grant us a neat, circular ending, and Hershon is not afraid of ambiguity. But for me, these aspects function as a part of the novel’s charm: fiction full of complexity, devoted to reality ... in the end, a larger sense of purpose crashes down in a satisfying burst. The love Sarah has for her daughter is so vast, so unyielding, it’s impossible to separate from her everyday interactions.