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Book Review

Book Reviews


Saga Press
Published: Feb. 25, 2020
432 pages

‘The Hidden Girl and Other Stories’

In difficult times, I have this odd tendency to reach for sad things. Music, movies, books and art that has a poignant, resonate depth of truth that burns — just a little. There is so much beauty in the blues that entire genres exist to capture it. Ken Liu’s gorgeous, bittersweet stories fit this bill perfectly. 

In this powerful volume of short stories, Liu is at the top of his game. Everything he writes has layers that transcend genre, and these stories are no different. The heartbreaking tale of a Japanese-American scientist in “Maxwell’s Demon” sticks with me to this day. The chilling realizations in “The Reborn” changed how I approach memories, and the power of grief in “Thoughts and Prayers” was enough to force me to rethink social media. 

Scattered among stories of artificial intelligence, climate change and the future of technology are deeply wrought characters rendered in striking detail — moments that took my breath away with their vivid humanity and emotion. Highly recommended for anyone with a penchant for skillful words, novel concepts and a just a touch of melancholy. ♦

Review by Julie Goodrich

CNA - Stop HIV Iowa (Oct)

Published: March 24, 2020
448 pages

‘The City We Became: A Novel’ 

New York City. Those words have always held a particular resonance, a personality, a power all their own — even when used as punchline. In her utterly fascinating and memorable new book, the powerhouse that is N.K. Jemisin takes that most beguiling of settings to whole new level. 

Using a setting as a character is not a new concept in fiction, “The City We Became” takes this in an entirely new direction — making the city’s emergence into its own entity the driver of the whole plot. A disparate group of New Yorkers become something other as the city arises in to face something ancient and unknowable in a battle as old as time. Lovecraftian and modern, massive in scale but with distinct, carefully drawn characters, this novel defies categorization in every way. And, yes, it really is that good.

Given the state of New York City at this moment in history, this magical story feels even more compelling than ever. Stay home, wash your hands and read this book. ♦

Review by Julie Goodrich

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