PositiveThe New York Times Book ReviewMockingjay is not as impeccably plotted as The Hunger Games, but nonetheless retains its fierce, chilly fascination. At its best the trilogy channels the political passion of 1984, the memorable violence of A Clockwork Orange, the imaginative ambience of The Chronicles of Narnia and the detailed inventiveness of Harry Potter ... The entire series, and Mockingjay in particular, also offers an investigation of the future frontier of the screen: There are cameras everywhere recording at the outer limits of experience.
Kate Elizabeth Russell
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewThe adult Vanessa is a classic unreliable narrator, and as she is reporting the sexual entanglement the reader becomes queasily aware of this ... One of the cleverest aspects of the novel is how it resists the facile linear form of revelation; it backs up toward insights, runs away from them, sifts through them again, obsesses. The book reads like a thriller or mystery story though there is no mystery ... The novel flickers between the horror of the situation and the romantic overlay with the stylized dizziness of a disco ball. The reader struggles, along with Vanessa, to make sense of what is happening ... One of the more radical aspects of the novel is that it maintains its ambiguities ... Very occasionally the writing veers toward clunkiness or overexplication, but at her best, Russell probes deftly at the disorienting paradoxes inherent in these relationships ... It is difficult to write about this subject without falling into predictable tropes or clichés, but Russell manages a brutal originality. In an era of neat furious accounts of victimhood, this novel stands out for elusiveness, its exceedingly complex, inventive, resourceful examination of harm and power.
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"... the adroitly edited new collection of her letters, The Letters of Sylvia Plath, Volume 2: 1956-1963, which spans her entire marriage to the English poet Ted Hughes and its aftermath, and includes many letters that had not previously been published, provides one of the most vivid and intimate accounts of her life to date. In particular, these letters vastly enrich our understanding of Plath’s state of mind leading up to her suicide, which has been patchy and sparse, in part because of Hughes’s decision to destroy her final journal ... One striking aspect of these letters is how prominently and enthusiastically the domestic details of Plath’s life in England, like stew recipes or flaky crusts or home-sewn baby clothes, are discussed, even as she remains intensely dedicated to her work ... These desperate letters [to Dr. Ruth Beuscher], which until recently were privately held, provide astonishing insight into Plath’s inner state in the troubled months when she wrote her strongest poems.\
RaveSlateIn Ian McEwan’s tricky and captivating new novel Sweet Tooth, he takes as his complex subject the male writer entering a woman’s consciousness (or it might be more accurate in this case to say breaking and entering a woman’s consciousness) … Even the sensitive, artistically attuned, intellectually sophisticated male writer sees a woman in a very different way than she would see herself. The gap McEwan investigates is enormous and fascinating, and if we truly want to understand sexual politics, we need to read, instead of ironic blogs and Caitlin Moran and faux sociology, more novels like this one … McEwan’s meta-fictional trick, his pulling the rug out from under the reader is interesting, because it requires her to reread, rethink, retread the novel.
MixedSlateClaire Messud's remarkable new novel The Emperor's Children is that mythical hybrid that publishers dream of one day finding in the piles of manuscripts on their desks: a literary page-turner … For at the heart of this book isn't love, but work, which so rarely comes into the late-coming-of-age novel. With each character, she methodically examines the secretly harbored illusions, the grand thoughts that we have about our talents, and how they careen to Earth … Messud fails to bring off the operatic finale that her characters, and her Iris Murdoch-like plot, compel. She has set up all sorts of denouements and resolutions that are left dangling; she has let the proverbial gun set up in the second act remain unfired.