PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewIt is not the first, or even the 10th, place to start reading McEwan if you’ve never encountered him before. Yet he’s such a masterly writer of prose and provocative thinker of thoughts that even his lesser novels leave marks. Machines is a sharp, unsettling read, which—despite its arteries being clogged with research and back story—has a lot on its mind about love, family, jealousy and deceit. Ultimately, it asks a surprisingly mournful question: If we built a machine that could look into our hearts, could we really expect it to like what it sees? ... In recent books, McEwan has sometimes been too showy with his research, and Machines is one of those sometimes: His explication of the world’s revised timeline is disruptive and atonal. Still, there’s something moving about a novelist assiduously reconfiguring history just so one good man can live. Having said all this, Machines Like Me is no more out-and-out science fiction than Kazuo Ishiguro’s elegiac novel about clones, Never Let Me Go. In fact, Machines is about what most literary novels are about: the godawful messiness of being human ... Machines Like Me moves briskly even when it gets hard to pull a comb through its plot ... There’s a passage in which Charlie takes Adam’s powered-down body from a closet that’s so viscerally written it scrapes your nerves like a horror movie. And, to repeat, all he’s doing is taking him out of a closet. As for McEwan’s characters, Charlie can be an irritant, but Miranda is compelling ... Mark, too, is heartbreaking. McEwan has always written stunningly about children ... Innocence never has much of a chance in McEwan’s novels.
MixedThe New York Times Book Review\"The Feral Detective is full of pleasures and annoyances. It’s a frustrating novel and, when you set it on the bedside table for the night, you feel like telling it, \'You stay there until you can behave yourself.\' But while it’s not essential Lethem, the book grows in your estimation in retrospect, and upon rereading, because of its ambitions, its sneaky tenderness and the relevance of its questions about identity and tribal warfare ... The plot is high on incident but feels meandering and oddly tension-less for the first half of the book. And Phoebe — Phoebe can be a problem. She’s our guide and conscience, yet Lethem colors her character in so slowly that she’s on the edge of a breakdown before we can grasp who she is ... Phoebe appears to be a mouthpiece for Lethem’s own rage, and she’s not an especially convincing portrait of a woman. It’s not enough to have her use the word \'menstrual\' and read Elena Ferrante ... At its best, though, The Feral Detective is a worthy morality play about our warring impulses for conflict and comfort. It asks who we are when we lose, or cast away, everything that was propping us up.\
PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewHe’s an engrossing, poetically surreal writer. He’s often woundingly funny. Still, the pages turn more heavily here than they did in his last two books ... Notes From the Fog has moments of humanity and grace, but the darkness weighs on you more and more as you read. It’s as if each story, however inventive, is a stone that Marcus is asking you to carry ... is sentences deserve to be lingered over, and his unsettling vision requires recovery time.
MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewBob Honey Who Just Do Stuff might have had the power of a manifesto. Instead, it’s a riddle wrapped in an enigma and cloaked in crazy ... To be fair, Bob Honey is perplexing and unquantifiable by design. Penn has clearly ingested the Beats, as well as Hunter S. Thompson and Chuck Palahniuk, and he evokes their trippiness to advance a sincere argument: that right now, America is enough to drive any rational, empathetic person nuts ... Still, for a wild ride, Bob Honey is conspicuously un-fun. For every perfect, plain-spoken sentence there are dozens of linguistic traffic jams where you can almost hear the words honking at each other to get out of the way ... In the evocative final pages, Penn offers a working theory of who and what Bob truly is. However, his real interest here is capturing what America has become — and taking a mallet to it.
PositiveNewsweekSmith may not sing, but her prose certainly does. Teeth is an epic, omnivorous comedy about London. It's about clashing cultures and generations, about people with too much history in their blood or none at all … White Teeth has far too many characters, and its plot is tortured. But Smith has an astonishing intellect. She writes sharp dialogue for every age and race — and she's funny as hell…[White Teeth] is a dance everybody ought to see.