PositiveThe Seattle TimesThis uncanny fusing of science and spirit is pure Doerr...in All the Light We Cannot See, published 10 years after his first novel, Doerr takes his familiar gifts to a higher plane and a wider field … By focusing on radio technology and the looting of precious stones, he enters the war through two quirky channels. And his hero, Werner Pfennig, is an inspired creation — a smart, sweet, undersized orphan faced with an impossible choice: Either submit to a nasty short life in the coal mines that killed his father or use his daring and brains to win a place at Schulpforta, the Nazi boarding school for ‘the best boys in Germany’ … I was despondent when I turned the last page. All the Light We Cannot See is a beautiful, daring, heartbreaking, oddly joyous novel.
MixedThe Seattle TimesTracy Kidder is a fly on the wall with patience, tenacity and incredibly acute antennae ... So why is it that A Truck Full of Money falls a bit flat?...To my mind, it has to do with the nature of the software business...English may be more successful and introspective than most of the tech pack, but he shares their penchant for expensive toys and adolescent thrills ... Still, Kidder’s prose is as crisp as ever, and his insights have the power to startle ... in the end, that story is just not compelling or resolved enough to carry a book.
RaveThe Seattle TimesHawk inevitably brings to mind Cheryl Strayed’sbest-seller Wild. Both memoirists dealt with the desolating death of a parent by banishing themselves from civilized precincts; both came back with amazing stories. But to my mind, Hawk is a superior accomplishment. There’s not a line here that rings false; every insight is hard won; though Macdonald seldom ventures far from the edge of plump British exurbia, she penetrates the dark heart of wildness more fearlessly and more honestly than Strayed. On the slippery, sliding scale of narrative nonfiction, Macdonald has found the ideal balance between art and truth.
MixedThe Seattle TimesThe book’s bifurcated structure does give him a double stage on which to enact great themes — how the genius gene transmits itself through shattered families; the sputtering afterlife of even the most titanic breakthroughs; the tragic disparity between being a genius and being raised by one. But from a purely a narrative point of view, why do slack when you can so dazzlingly pull off taut?
PanThe Seattle TimesIn Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Mitchell established himself as one of the most daringly inventive novelists of our day. But Slade House, like The Bone Clocks puts that brilliance at the service of something trite, simplistic and ultimately rather dull. The sooner Mitchell gets this soul-sucking mumbo-jumbo out of his system and moves on, the better.