The Mountain in the Sea" is a mesmerizing read, like watching an octopus shift seamlessly from one camouflage to another. It is at once a hard scifi novel exploring the mapping of the human brain, a first-contact tale in which the sentient alien species we encounter comes not from the sky, but the sea. It is also an environmental thriller, complete with corporate espionage and weapons tech. But at its heart it is an elegy to the aquatic world we are on the verge of destroying, with perhaps a ray of hope at the end.
I've read everything this guy has ever published, and after 25 years since his first (and best) collection, Civilwarland in Bad Decline, he's still coaxing the dark out of us and showing that people are neither bad nor good: they're both. This collection contains classic George Saunders—the story "Ghoul" is set in a hell-themed amusement park—as well as new, subversive modes of storytelling. If you haven't read him, literally anywhere, right now, is a great place to start.
Think "While You Were Sleeping"... but replace the coziness of Christmas with the spookiness of fall; finding a new family with putting an old one back together; a fake engagement with death itself.
Never seen that movie? Then pick this book up just for the buckets of yearning and emotional growth!
Our favorite unhinged medeians are back and better than ever. I can't say too much without spoiling it, so I'll leave you with an excerpt;
"Put a pin in this weird moment you're having, would you?" she said, addressing him disinterestedly over her shoulder. "And don't drink anymore, you're bound to get all morbid. And don't kill anyone," she added as an afterthought. "Or do. It's really none of my business."
"Have you ever been in love?" Callum asked her.
"Jesus Christ, never mind. Here," she said, shoving her glass of champagne into his hands. You're embarrassing all of us."
This is not a "read for the holidays" romance. This is a "read anytime you need heartwarming, queer, neurodiverse, steamy romance where you end up rooting for every. single. character. romance". I didn't know I liked marriage of convenience tropes, but Ellie and Andrew had conflicts and fears that made all the implausible, plausible. Add in some snow magic and wild familial dynamics -- this book is just brimming with delights.
This book feels transfixing in the way fluorescent convenience store lights are, with a low-grade eerie buzzing. The writing is slow yet staccato, but at less than 200 pages it'll fly by. It's uncomfortable yet an enthralling take on how comfortable work, routine, and capitalism can be and how much a job can control your very being.
Each sentence in this novel is crafted to imperfect perfection. Smith writes like a modernist (think Forster with a bit of Woolf) with a layer of tomfoolery atop heaviness and betrayal. This will soothe as much as it will leave you with so many questions (in the absolute best way).
Everything starts normal enough, you know, a hypothetical hot tub full of shit kind of normal. But then everything begins to ooze and build and she just wants to be the perfect wife, the perfect woman. Kill the bacteria, save your family. Buy the healthy snacks, save your family. Do whatever you can, save your family. Enjoy with jellied salmon, Chicken à la King, and a wine cooler or five. A quirky, gruesome, fresh horror that will rival the classics.The trashier (in a good way) cousin of A Certain Hunger and the 60's housewife sister of Nightbitch
I loved the emptiness of this book. An aloneness with a touch of loneliness. A slow crawl, a quiet horror that is never fully unleashed. The look at pandemic life before living through an actual pandemic. The 'zombies' that are much creepier than the brain-eating variety. I felt for Candace like I feel for my favorite anti-heroines. Ling Ma handled her characters and this concept very well, as if she were holding broken glass in broken hands.
Do you love video games? No? Not me either, but I still loved this book! This is a book about having someone to play with and a recognition that the child in us often needs a pat on the back. Zevin takes you on waves of emotion as you learn to love Sam, Sadie, and Marx as they come of age into often unlikable 20something year olds. Zevin explores grief, family, friendship, love, childhood, parenthood, fame, Shakespeare, and so much more. It's heavy, it's emotional, it's frustrating, it's endearing, and it's a joy to read. Good luck, happy gaming, and happy reading!