RaveThe New York Times Book Review... luminous ... In Sea of Tranquility, Mandel offers one of her finest novels and one of her most satisfying forays into the arena of speculative fiction yet, but it is her ability to convincingly inhabit the ordinary, and her ability to project a sustaining acknowledgment of beauty, that sets the novel apart. As in Ishiguro, this is not born of some cheap, made-for-television, faux-emotional gimmick or mechanism, but of empathy and hard-won understanding, beautifully built into language ... It is that aspect of Sea of Tranquility, Mandel’s finely rendered, characteristically understated descriptions of the old-growth forests her characters walk through, the domed moon colonies some of them call home, the robot-tended fields they gaze over or the whooshing airship liftoff sound they hear even in their dreams, that will, for this reader at least, linger longest.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewFor some years, Matt Bell (Scrapper and Cataclysm Baby) has had climate and apocalypse on his mind, and his excellent new novel continues and deepens his investment ... Bell wisely resists going overboard with connective and structural conceits, and so prevents Appleseed, with its tripart design of tightly woven threads, from turning into a giant puzzle ... Bell is clearly not out in this formally ambitious but still deeply humane work to score points for making nifty formal moves. An appealing earnestness undergirded by deeply felt optimism infuses Appleseed ... Appleseed, a highly welcome addition to the growing canon of first-rate contemporary climate fiction, feels timely, prescient and true.
RaveThe New York Times Book ReviewIn Porter’s winning new novel, Lanny, despair and unsettling entities are again on the menu, as are hard-won grace and beauty ... The ensuing polyphony — while less measured, more gloriously cacophonous — is reminiscent of Jon McGregor’s recent Reservoir 13, which was also set in an English village and also took up, through multiple perspectives, a search and its aftermath. Lanny\'s achievement, like that of its predecessor, is nonetheless all its own. And if Lanny, even more than Grief, hums throughout with hope and humor, the dark and the difficult are also always there.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesIf this sounds like a recipe for sleep soup, rest assured: It is anything but. This is because everything in the novel is filtered through Faye, and Faye is as funny and moving and ruthlessly articulate as she is good at paying attention ... A concomitant desire to understand or at least illuminate the mechanisms and limits of freedom moves insistently through the pages of Transit ... It is hard to have to wait for Cusk’s next novel to see where Faye’s listening, and readouts of it will take her, and us, next.
RaveThe Washington PostRather than dwelling on the difficulties faced, or chasing after illusory solutions, Berlin’s characters sit with their challenges, move quietly toward their difficulties and find a way to keep standing on their slick and tilted floors ... Through measured use of sentence fragments, unexpected word choices and fascinating juxtapositions, Berlin’s stories embody rather than merely describe the challenges faced by her marginalized narrators and protagonists ... Unlike the chiseled tales of her contemporary Raymond Carver, to whom she has been compared, Berlin’s beautiful, rangy prose builds into unpredictable shapes that speak of the sprawling rural and urban western and South American landscapes that fueled her imagination.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesMillet is well known for writing idea-rich books, so perhaps it is no surprise that even if Anna isn't a resourceful fugitive, she thinks a lot and interestingly...If Anna were just another middle-class escapee on a spiritual quest, that might come off as handsome but a little hokey. But Anna's lucubrations, offered between games with her daughter and chats with her neighbors, are part of a higher-stakes game being played by Millet, one that will ultimately, unabashedly touch on time, beauty, horror, God, demons and the very nature of being. By novel's end, having gazed all along through the cracking lens of Anna's apparent ordinariness, the stakes have been raised through the roof.
MixedThe Washington PostBehrens is so fine at both sweeping and granular evocations of history, so good at vividly and economically painting his minor players, that one wishes he had found a way to attend more effectively to all his characters ... Still, this doesn’t keep Behrens from working more of his verbal magic or the reader from feeling a sense of vivid, if all too fleeting, hope
PositiveThe New York Times“A Friend of Mr. Lincoln is a novel of real rewards. Not least among them is Harrigan’s ability to vividly and economically evoke his vanished world, as in this description of a path encountered on the Illinois prairie: 'It was a road that seemed almost arbitrary in this featureless immensity, as if someone had tried to carve a route through the curving vault of heaven.'