RaveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksMcElroy continually finds ways to surprise us, throwing one curveball after another to keep the enclave teetering along its precarious path ... The thinness of the veil between bizarre fiction and current reality gives one pause ... The novel is briskly paced and structured in short chapters that either move the plot forward, build suspense, or provide needed context. McElroy renders characters and scenes in brilliant flashes of memorable images ... Images such as these are doing double-duty, giving us vivid mental pictures that also speak to the peril and anxiety surrounding Sasha with allusions to electric shock and piercing metal objects. This is not to say that the novel is grim — it’s delightfully witty satire ... Reading The Atmospherians was like eating one dark chocolate, sea salt truffle after another until, oops, I’d eaten the whole box. \'Sea salt truffle\' may sound weirdly specific, but I assure you, the humor here is delicious, and Sasha is salty ... I often get annoyed with protagonists who make as many self-destructive decisions as Sasha does, but her recklessness is different, fueled by a compelling amalgam of guilt and contrariness. She, like the whole novel, plunges forward with so much gusto, I couldn’t look away.
RaveWashington Independent Review of Books... dark and trippy ... mesmerizing, haunting, and often not for the faint of heart. This collection teems with Yolen’s weird, folkloric verve ... Her foreword and endnotes offer additional context for the work, creating a satisfying—if often unsettling—reading experience. Although she draws from conventional roots, Yolen has a talent for mashing up traditions to create something entirely her own ... The second half of the collection goes darker, to the extent that I might suggest a trigger warning ... Not that it’s all gloom and doom. There are enough powerful weavers, witches, and revenge against patriarchy to warm the cockles of a reader’s girl-power heart.
PositiveWashington Independent Review of Books\"What makes this memoir so refreshing and unique is the humor [Young] infuses into the precarious state of being black in America ... By offering himself up as the punching bag, Young defuses just enough tension to tackle difficult issues of race and identity. Rather than accusing his readers of being brutes, he leans close to them and hooks a thumb back at his former, less-enlightened self, saying, Look at that guy. Can you believe him? He had some growing up to do, didn’t he? ... At times, it’s easy to forget that this is a memoir because larger societal issues are consistently intertwined in his reflections ... The bottom line: Young’s keen humor and humility make for a smart, engaging, funny, and thought-provoking read.\
PositiveThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThe Invoice is not merely a neat little morality tale. It has a charming oddness mixed with a bit of menace, like Kafka with a soft spot — not to mention a taste for romance ... Some readers may find the protagonist a bit flat or passive. I read him as a pleasantly unassuming everyman ... The Invoice is a quick, amusing read for anyone in the mood for an inventive diversion.
MixedThe Washington Independent Review of BooksThrough these varied yet intertwined viewpoints, Gyasi explores the deep territory of colonialism, slavery, discrimination, corruption, identity, and homecoming. She approaches tough topics with unflinching honesty. Her description of the horrific conditions in the castle’s dungeon, for instance, is explicit, yet her language shows remarkable restraint. She gives it to us straight, and therefore we are enlightened without feeling manipulated ... Didactic moments can pull the reader out of the story. This happens more toward the beginning, somewhat by the necessity of explaining an unfamiliar time and place. But Gyasi is at her best when she settles in and lets her characters tell us about themselves in their own terms ... The structure of the book dictates a somewhat high tell vs. show ratio, because with each new character, a good amount of reportage is required to connect the new character with their forebears and to situate the character in the new time and place. But perhaps it is unfair to criticize a book for raising such interesting and complex issues in truncated form. The generation-to-generation format can lead to a recurring feeling of disappointment at not having spent more time with each character, but on the other hand, it indicates fertile ground for more books from Gyasi in the future — books I look forward to reading.