PanSunday Times (UK)Cline’s second novel, The Guest...arrives lumbered with very high expectations. It fails to meet them ... The premise is intriguing ... A novel defined by lack ... The ending is an unsatisfying cliffhanger. Worse still, the prose feels sterile, there’s no character development and no structural analysis either ... Vibes do not a novel make. Enough with the nihilistic detachment; I want a story to make me feel something.
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)The novel is about competing histories, conflicting memories, and how love makes fools of us all ... Can often feel like a novel on drugs — lots of visceral feelings; very few names, places or even objects. But that description overlooks the craft required to create such a mood ... Mackintosh is a skilful stylist, a writer who affords prose the care and attention usually withheld for poetry. Her words invite immediate rereading; her metaphors feel true and fresh.
PositiveThe Sunday Times (UK)A clunky plot device, one that exposes Gilmartin’s newness to the novel form. But put that aside and the tapestry she goes on to weave, one of a family battered by tragedies, is rich and vibrant ... Gilmartin writes beautifully about being and losing a twin ... Tragedies, Gilmartin seems to say, are not sealed-off stories — they happen all the time, and are mixed in with laughter too.
PositiveThe Times (UK)The horrors of life in the trenches are described in stomach-turning detail ... Winn has not written this book for easy reading on the Tube. There is an ease to her writing, though, a zippy confidence, unusual for a debut, that allows her to skip across Europe ... In Memoriam concludes in a slightly lacklustre fashion, with a feeling of lost momentum. Loose ends are tied up, characters married off or exiled, but Winn refuses an easy happy ending. She shows the rather less satisfying reality of living with the trauma of war.
RaveSunday Times (UK)In truth Brutes is not an easy read. But it is an impressive one, thanks to Tate’s almost frightening powers of description. It has been a long time since I read a novel that so viscerally evoked a feeling of place ... Brutes’s narrative structure is complex and often taxing: this is a novel that rewards rereading. The girls’ collective voice switches between before and after Sammy goes missing, and is interspersed with the girls’ grown-up individual narratives. Tate’s experience as a short-story writer comes out in full force here ... With its plot twists, grotesque horror and cartoonish villains, Brutes is a novel that refuses to be reasonable. That’s part of its unsettling charm. But as the shock of the ending wears off, it’s the humid atmosphere of Florida that will stay with you, the smell of rotting food and a contaminated lake. It’s an astonishing debut that will burrow under your skin.
PanThe Sunday Times (UK)Many individuals and organisations, including, for example, the Holocaust Survivors’ Friendship Association, have pointed out [The Boy in the Striped Pajamas\'] problems ... Boyne has decided to rectify none of these issues in his ill-advised sequel ... It becomes clear that Boyne did not intend to worry about such minor details as narrative plausibility ... This is an adult book, but it has clunky narrative links that would be out of place even in a children’s story. There are difficult moral questions here, but they are obscured, unfortunately, by the ridiculousness of the plot.
Julia May Jonas
RaveThe Sunday Times (UK)With a title that inevitably brings to mind Nabokov and his Lolita and a blurb that advertises its #MeToo credentials, you might imagine it to be a simple morality tale. You’d be wrong ... like everyone in this twisty, sexy, shocking treat of a novel, she doesn’t comfortably fit into any villain/victim template ... jaw-dropping gear shift changes everything. I was utterly hooked ... Occasionally, the students descend into snowflake caricatures, but as a whole this is an astonishing debut, unashamedly plotty without sacrificing style or depth, and thought-provoking without being too cringingly zeitgeisty. How on earth will Julia May Jonas better this?
Hervé Le Tellier, Tr. Adriana Hunter
PanThe Times (UK)... a disappointment. This is a novel of two genres and, put together, they curdle ... the book often reads like a low-budget Hollywood script ... The book’s questionable metaphysics might be forgivable if it didn’t revert to blockbuster devices ... Le Tellier is excellent at examining the minutiae of human relationships. But he should have left the big explosions to the experts.