Identity issues involving a child of mixed heritage get a supernatural spin in this affecting coming-of-age tale. Ariella Montero’s mother vanished the day she was born, leaving her to the care of her overprotective scientist father, who homeschools her and limits her contact with the outside world. Only when she reaches adolescence does Ari discover that her special diet and insular home life set her apart from her peers. Her father’s confession that he was vampirized shortly before marriage, and that Ari can choose whether to be undead like him or mortal like mom, set her off on a road trip that eventually brings her to her mother and into an understanding of tough truths about her family. Hubbard (Walking on Ice) delineates Ari’s world of innocent and uncertain adolescence with uncommon poignance and forgoes sensationalism for sensitivity in her depiction of vampirism as one of many emotionally charged challenges Ari faces as a child of estranged parents. She doesn’t do much original with the vampire theme, but the novel’s open ending suggests inevitable sequels where this may develop further.
Wherever Ariella Montero goes, it seems, someone is murdered. Writing in a style that The New York Times calls “minimalism O. Henrified,” Susan Hubbard continues, with The Year of Disappearances, her heroine’s mysterious and spellbinding quest, begun in The Society of S, to recognize the demons who may live inside us and the ones we love — so that they can be removed.
From Publishers Weekly
Prize-winning Brit Winterson applies her fantastical touch to a sci-fi, postapocalyptic setting. Heroine Billie Crusoe appears in three different end-of-the-world scenarios, allowing Winterson to explore the repetitive and destructive nature of human history and an inability (or unwillingness) of people to learn from previous mistakes. In the first section, inhabitants of the pollution-choked planet Orbus have discovered Planet Blue (Earth), and soon set about launching an asteroid at it to kill the dinosaurs that would prevent them from colonizing the planet. The second and third sections are set on Earth in 1774 and then in the Post-3 War era. Though passionate condemnations of global warming and war appear frequently, the book also contains a triptych love story: Billie meets Spike, a female Robo sapien capable of emotion and evolution, and falls (reluctantly) in love with her. In each of the scenarios, Billie and Spike (or versions of them) fall in love anew while encroaching annihilation looms in the background. Winterson’s lapses into polemic can be tedious, but her proseâ€”as stunning, lyrical and evocative as everâ€”and intelligence easily carry the book.
Bestseller Clark (Where Are the Children?) spins yet another imaginative tale of murder and deceit. Every Mother’s Day over the 10 years since Charles “Mack” MacKenzie Jr. disappeared from Columbia University just before his graduation, Mack has phoned his mother in Manhattan to let her know he’s all right, but otherwise reveals nothing. In the meantime, Mack’s lawyer father has perished in the 9/11 tragedy. Now Mack’s younger sister, Carolyn, a graduate of Columbia and Duke Law School, where Mack was intending to go, tells him during his annual call that she’s going to find him. When a note from Mack turns up in the collection plate at St. Francis church, asking Father Devon MacKenzie, his uncle, to tell Carolyn not to look for him, she becomes even more determined to do so. Based on a real story, as Clark notes in her acknowledgments, this novel of suspense will keep readers guessing to the nail-biting conclusion.