The world of Maddaddam is harsh and often ugly world – particularly the Painballers – a group of criminals who have survived their Hunger Games style imprisonment a number of times and have lost their ‘humanity’ in the process. However, in spite of some pretty gruesome episodes, ultimately the story is a redemptive and satisfying one. The Craker’s naivety is charming, and beyond Toby and Zeb, the characters are delightfully Dickenesque – turning to fizz, flirting in scientific jargon, and cooking up a storm with weeds and lab-grown splices.
Laura Moriarty’s three earlier novels are well worth reading. My favourite of these earlier works is While I’m Falling. The Chaperone, however, is broader in scope and required more research than the earlier works. It is a maturation story which interweaves the themes of racial equality, adoption policy, human sexuality and women’s autonomy. The Chaperone will make readers question their assumptions and preconceived notions.
The presence and influence of so many great women, nearly all of whom reveal their own struggles with insecurity and self-doubt, only strengthens the book’s overall message. This is a delightful, one-of-a-kind book. I rarely find a book where I actually want to crawl inside of the place, listen in on some conversations, and get to know some of the characters, but I found myself doing that with The House at the End of Hope Street.
Peter’s healing develops naturally through the chapters, and ultimately makes The Bookman’s Tale an immensely satisfying and pleasurable read that combines a range of genres and above all else, celebrates the beauty and wonder of the literary word.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane has been touted as Mr. Gaiman’s first book for adults in eight years. True, it does not quite fall into the “All Ages” category that separates his works from “Adult” because a six-year-old would probably be scarred for life reading (or listening) to the scene where our hero (a seven-year-old boy) is almost drowned in his Safe Place (the bathtub where he reads) by his own father.
She survived the storm that claimed the lives of the ill-fated fishing boat Andrea Gail’s crew (the Perfect Storm that inspired the book and film). But nothing prepared her for an even greater challenge—motherhood. Greenlaw chronicles her rapid journey from a self-sufficient, adventurous fisherman to the legal guardian of a teenager in Lifesaving Lessons: Notes from an Accidental Mother.
Elemental is an exquisite novel. Every word of it is tightly crafted and pregnant with possibility. It is self-referential and post-modern in the way it undermines time, creating a genetic and emotional link between characters in multiple times and places.
Bluff was born from Skomal’s own experience sitting at her gravely ill mother’s bedside, and the frustration, fear and hope all come through in her writing. To her credit, she hasn’t only drawn on this experience in writing Bluff, but has enlisted the advice of health, religious and legal professionals, all of whom are acknowledged.
It is in this setting that the dual tragedies unfold as each character faces the practical, ethical and moral dilemmas they have inherited from the past. She builds up tension by releasing the story in carefully crafted chapters told from two different perspectives of the events which happen in the two different periods of time.
The theme that unknown and uncontrollable forces beyond and within oneself determine one’s fate is typical of the “naturalist” school of writers. Among the famous naturalist writers are Emile Zola, Thomas Hardy and Jack London, who show people as biological entities who respond to environmental forces and internal stresses that they do not fully understand and cannot control. O’Hara differs from these earlier naturalist novelists in that he lacks their social conscience, and focuses upon the wealthy, rather than the poor, but his “naturalism” is demonstrated by his blunt style and frank, brutal depiction of human interactions.