RaveThe Boston GlobeAlam’s descriptions and details immerse you in his world; his character descriptions are almost repulsive in their beauty ... Alam’s narrative shifts easily between the gorgeous and the repellant; in his writing is embodied both beauty and the horror of our daily existence. It’s an incredible gift, and one he uses to great effect throughout this novel ... It’s hard to categorize Leave the World Behind in any meaningful way. Is it literary fiction? Yes. Is it a thriller? Sure. Is it science fiction? Not quite, but it could be ... It may seem like reading a book about the moment the world changes might be unsettling right now. Instead, bearing witness to the range of emotions, the panic, the uncertainty and fear and doubt on a small scale, within this household, provides some comfort. There are no easy answers, but in the midst of uncertainty, we have each other to rely on. And maybe that will get us through.
RaveThe Boston Globe... [an] excellent narrative ... Thomas does an incredible job with her descriptions here, helping the reader visualize the decay and neglect lingering under the surface ... The strength of this debut novel relies on its refusal to adhere to any sort of genre conventions ... The descriptions in the book are what really ground the story; from the depiction of the varied buildings of Catherine House to the visceral and constant thoughts about food and drink, Thomas builds a thick atmosphere. The book’s setting provides just as much fodder for thought and discussion as do its characters or plot. In fact, plot is secondary to the book as a whole ... That’s not to say the central mystery of the book—What is plasm and what is Catherine House doing with it?—isn’t relevant ...The novel’s vagueness is a huge part of its charm, and it underlines the fact that it’s Ines’s journey that is central here, rather than answering questions. Ines never exactly becomes a likable character, but that hardly matters—the reader becomes emotionally invested in her journey regardless. Thomas is trying to show readers what it feels like to not fit into the place you’re supposed to belong, to not even fit inside your own skin. While the book is easy to read—Thomas’s smart prose ensures that—the echoes of discomfort linger long after the last pages are turned.
RaveNPR...if Crazy Rich Asians was all about the luster and the shiny surface, The Majesties is focused on the grit and ruthlessness that makes the opulence possible ... It\'s certainly a fascinating premise, and it drew me in right away. The decision to reveal the answer to the mystery at the beginning of the novel was a daring one, but it necessarily forces readers to focus on the events that led to this drastic event, rather than treating it as a traditional thriller ... a fascinating and well-written story ... Every character involved is despicable in their own way, including the narrator, Doll, but the book is never difficult to read ... Tsao excels at delivering biting social commentary while also telling a riveting story ... a resounding success. It\'s shocking how enjoyable and delicious this dark, disturbing novel was, and that unease will sit with me for a long time to come.
RaveThe Los Angeles TimesShah’s work reads like a thriller. She develops her multiple characters beautifully, and she presents the stomach-turning plight of women well. The social commentary in the novel, specifically in the parallels between Sabine’s world and the patriarchal nature of conservative Muslim countries, is exquisite. The ending feels a little rushed, but this is a thoughtful novel that will stick with me for a very long time.
PositiveThe Los Angeles TimesThe author paints a disturbing picture of a government that values survival at any and all costs. It’s a creative premise, and it’s fascinating to read about Lea’s carefully crafted life unraveling before her. Heng’s confident prose makes this book an easy read, despite tackling difficult subjects such as suicide and the right to die.
PositiveLos Angeles TimesIt’s a complicated plot, but Lim’s steady prose and deft character development ensured that I was hooked ... Lim paints a strange and unfamiliar world with her novel, full of fascinating social commentary on class differences, racism and sexism ... It’s easy to fall into this novel and become emotionally involved.
RaveThe Los Angeles Times...in this beautifully written book, we are exposed to questions that we may never have even thought to ask ... The journal entry format is an interesting and effective choice; as readers we are at once incredibly close to the action and characters while simultaneously being held at arm’s length. I was inside Jacob’s head, witnessing his innermost thoughts and feelings, but also removed from anything outside of it ... The glimpses into the Amish community are a welcome change from the typical speculative fiction narrative. Williams presents something fresh and new with this choice, and while I can’t speak to the accuracy of the community’s portrayal in this novel, it felt real and vivid ... It’s rare to find a debut novel as finely crafted as When the English Fall.