RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksCelt delivers an apocalyptic mindset without sinking too deeply into despair. Through her characters’ devotion to one another, across different timelines, she leads her readers through a world that is always on the edge of ending ... Celt writes Bertie with such earnest detail and depth that her love for Kate truly does feel like a force large enough to keep the apocalypse at bay. Part of why this love feels true is because the world around it feels true, even as it’s falling apart ... Throughout End of the World House, there’s a sense of something wrong in the periphery. Celt’s prose is light, at times unnervingly buoyant as it dips in and out of Bertie’s trauma ... a post-apocalyptic novel that holds the persistence of the everyday. It’s a book that offers a deep look into coping with loss, endings, and change, but most of all, it offers a deep look into Bertie’s character and allows the audience to live with her through a myriad of different lives, through the ending of so many worlds.
Emily St. John Mandel
RaveObserverReaders of Mandel’s other novels will remember her talent for subtly interweaving disparate narratives, and Sea of Tranquility rises to that area of expertise. Mandel connects her characters both literally and figuratively—partly in a sci-fi mystery that unfolds across time, and also through their humanity in common themes of life, sickness, death, travel, art, and ultimately wondering what it’s all for ... Mandel masterfully connects characters’ observations and senses within any given moment. When someone leaves, they fade into the twilight. In a moment of horror, the air is cold. Mandel’s descriptions conjure both realism and poetry, especially when parts of the novel speak directly to her modern readers’ experience of the pandemic ... Fans of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel are sure to love Sea of Tranquility, not only because of the familiar characters and elements of story that appear in this new novel. It feels like a natural continuation or revisiting of ideas in Station Eleven, certainly, now that all of Mandel’s readers have been through a pandemic firsthand. Sea of Tranquility is also for anyone who wants to think about what the end of the world means, and how our lives matter in the face of it.
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksOkorafor builds a deep awareness for the reader of what justice actually looks like, who is able to deliver it, and how ... An incredible Afrofuturistic legend, Remote Control offers a heroine who, when given power over life itself, relies distinctly on her humanity.
S. L. Huang
RaveChicago Review of BooksIn Burning Roses, S. L. Huang treats a fairy tale as merely the prologue to the rest of a life ... Huang’s characterization of both Rosa and Hou Yi is impeccable. Rarely in fiction or fairy tales do we see two protagonists who are queer, older women of color. Both women are a complex synthesis of fairytale archetypes—hero, hunter, and villain are each represented at different points in both their lives, and they reveal their multiplicities to one another in long conversations over the course of their journey. Burning Roses highlights the joys in peeking into older characters’ lives—far from dismissing or simplifying them, the story pulls generously and compassionately from their lifetimes.
Rebecca Dinerstein Knight
RaveThe Chicago Review of BooksWe swirl through Nell’s thoughts and while sometimes strange, they feel intricately tied to the way many of us have experienced a love that is so overpowering and unattainable it seems to swallow us whole ... The working minds of Knight’s characters are simultaneously so precise that they feel scientific and so familiar to one’s own life experience that they feel magical. Nell is seemingly distracted at times but is actually astoundingly and delightfully perceptive, and she reveals the complex truths of this story deftly and easily ... With this small, powerful cast, Hex reels you in slowly, with easy introductions to the landscape of these characters’ relationships ... a book for those who feel adrift and solitary, for those who feel overwhelmed by themselves. Ultimately, it’s a story about harnessing what is out of control—and learning that perhaps the only way to control a poisonous thing is to first embrace it.
PositiveThe Chicago Review of BooksAt times, the novel is less about the Cheffe and more about this man’s idea of her ... The novel breeds fascination, and the narrator’s obsession with the Cheffe is catching. Words about this unknowable character feel full of crucial details and, as the reader hopes, perhaps in the telling of the story there will be one detail that gives the Cheffe away, that reveals the source of her grandeur, that allows the reader to understand her ... Still, NDiaye surprises us when the Cheffe’s fame fades during more intimate moments. When the narrator tells of the midnight kitchen hours when he and the Cheffe could speak openly, NDiaye’s writing reaches a beautiful honesty. The strange loveliness of them meeting in such an unlikely space is peaceful and genuine, private and therefore more intimate ... NDiaye utilizes the relationships between these characters to observe the wide scope of love in our lives, how it drives us, and where. Despite sparse dialogue, the thoughts and innermost lives of these characters take the forefront, and what they say out loud to each other is far less important than what they mean.