Boyle is vague about environmental damage as the story begins, more or less in the present ... Human beings’ dogged capacity to endure is one of Boyle’s central themes, but this does not, in his depiction, necessarily make them admirable ... Disasters are depicted with an expert blend of suspense, terror and, occasionally, very black humor ... Boyle shows us the infrastructure of modern civilization disintegrating in tandem with the natural environment we have thoughtlessly plundered and polluted ... This fiercely honest writer shows us what he sees and invites his readers to draw their own conclusions.
Something of a return to the themes of A Friend of the Earth, but with a twist (and, alas, to lesser effect) ... Smug characters ... Boyle’s entertaining if somewhat bloodless novel circles around an affluent Santa Barbara family ... There are some trademark Boyle tropes here, including unexpected death and transgressive sex ... Mildly amusing. Boyle does it well here, but he’s done it better before.
The characters navigate a series of escalating ecological disasters ... Boyle’s tone grows increasingly elegiac, or perhaps only more satirical ... Less a novel about what might be done about the climate crisis and more an accomplished family drama with a climate-crisis setting ... Boyle doesn’t offer his own clear answer. Maybe he doesn’t need to.
Devastating ... Just before Boyle drives his characters over the edge, he eases off the accelerator long enough to find a little hope. Readers will have to wait until the final pages to feel it, but if along the way they’re convinced by a novel to eat more plants or drive an electric vehicle, Blue Skies could be a very influential book indeed.
Satire has often been an important element in his work, and environmental disaster a running theme, and both are at play in this ironically titled, beautifully crafted novel ... Boyle does a brilliant job of writing about an enormous subject in utterly human terms. He draws the Cullens with all their flaws but with tender affection, too. Amid the climate apocalypse, life goes on, which is, maybe, a sign of hope.
Extreme climate events and myriad endangered and invasive species all point to an inevitable environmental collapse, yet humans seem more interested in willfully adapting than preventing impending doom, like Nero playing the fiddle. Boyle’s genius lies in his ability to blend the horrific and the humorous, to slowly ratchet up the tension while crafting a gripping yet eerie narrative that forecasts a disaster of our own making.
Boyle has always been adept at creating believable worlds populated by people experiencing high anxiety, and that skill is vividly on display here ... Few novelists are as adept as Boyle at setting balls in motion and playing them out to sometimes grim conclusions. But his books are always entertaining, littered as they are with the minute effluvia of modern American life ... Regular readers of Boyle’s work will be in familiar territory. It certainly doesn’t look like there’s a happy ending in the offing, what with the relentless visitation of fire and rain, but you never know with this literary trickster.
Spirited ... Boyle remains a vibrant stylist, with fondness for his complex characters and a knack for zany details (Ottilie’s dinners with her physician husband include fried grasshoppers and mescal-worm tacos). Equal parts entertaining and anxiety inducing, this dazzles.
Tragicomic ... So much of this is so funny, in a twisted sort of way. At one point, a character describes the novel he’s reading as cli-fi, and this novel might fit that category as well. Yet it doesn’t so much imagine a climate future as awaken us to today’s. Be afraid. Be very afraid.