MixedThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewDavid Wroblewski, in his ambitious first novel, uses the framework of Shakespeare’s tragedy to grant that patient dog its day … Wroblewski’s literary skill is most apparent in his intoxicating descriptions of the bucolic setting … He handles his task with impressive subtlety, even when allowing the narrative a dog’s-eye view. But while sections of this book achieve a piercing elegance, the novel too often slides into the torpid mode of field guides and breeding manuals, with Wroblewski’s penchant for detail getting in the way of a full exploration of his characters’ emotional cores.
PositiveThe New York Times Sunday Book Review...a 766-page doorstop, a dystopian epic that’s the first installment in a projected vampire trilogy … While it relies at times on convention, The Passage is astutely plotted and imaginative enough to satisfy the most bloodthirsty reader … Cronin leaps back and forth in time, sprinkling his narrative with diaries, e-mail messages, maps, newspaper articles and legal documents. Sustaining such a long book is a tough endeavor, and every so often his prose slackens into inert phrases. For the most part, though, he artfully unspools his plot’s complexities, and seemingly superfluous details come to connect in remarkable ways.
PanThe Washington PostPetit hovers on the edges, a spectral force employed to accentuate both the splendor that humans can create as well as the muck that constitutes our quotidian lives. McCann's forlorn cast seeks to empower themselves, to swap the muck for the splendor … The author is not known to cut narrow slices, and here he wants to glorify life's interconnectedness … McCann can craft penetrating phrases but his theme is stale, and the exhaustive back stories he gives each character never pay off. McCann relies on streams of short sentences that can seem lazy and distracted.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
RaveThe New York Times Sunday Book ReviewAdichie is an extraordinarily self-aware thinker and writer, possessing the ability to lambaste society without sneering or patronizing or polemicizing. For her, it seems no great feat to balance high-literary intentions with broad social critique … Many of Adichie’s best observations regard nuances of language. When people are reluctant to say ‘racist,’ they say ‘racially charged.’ The phrase ‘beautiful woman,’ when enunciated in certain tones by certain haughty white women, undoubtedly means ‘ordinary-looking black woman’ … Ifemelu and Obinze represent a new kind of immigrant, ‘raised well fed and watered but mired in dissatisfaction.’ They aren’t fleeing war or starvation but ‘the oppressive lethargy of choicelessness.’