BY NICO VREELAND
[In this feature, we highlight a handful of the best book reviews appearing over the weekend in major newspapers.]
The Twelve, by Justin Cronin. Savaged by Janet Maslin in the New York Times.
When I last checked in with Janet Maslin, she had misread a book so grossly that the Times printed a correction. So it’s nice to see her redeem herself with a righteous takedown like this obliteration of Justin Cronin’s latest abomination. Cronin is a hack “literary” author who made millions with a truly god-awful vampire novel called The Passage (my review here). The Twelve is the second in a planned trilogy, and by Maslin’s estimation, it’s even worse. She juicily rips apart both of Cronin’s horrible novels with lines like, “Mr. Cronin loves blurry, indecisive states of confusion. (“Amy’s blood had saved her life, yet in a way it hadn’t.”)” It’s well worth reading, as much as The Twelve surely won’t be.
Talking Pictures, by Ransom Riggs. Reviewed by Carolyn Kellogg in the L.A. Times.
Random Riggs’s last book was the cool- and quirky-looking Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which mixed Diane Arbus-esque photos in with a relatively pedestrian story. According to Wikipedia, Riggs originally wanted to curate a photo book, but somebody at Quirk Books talked him into writing a story around the pictures, and the result was underwhelming. Now, Riggs has a new publisher and he’s curated a book of photos. Each one has writing on it, but no narrative is forced into the cracks. I’m more interested in this than Peregrine, not least because it seems a lot closer to what Riggs actually wants to publish.
Flight Behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver. Reviewed by Ron Charles in the Washington Post.
Ron Charles turns in a mixed review about the latest novel by Barbara Kingsolver, one of my mother’s favorite authors. Kingsolver, evidently a proponent of environmental protection, focuses on “a conflicted young woman and her faltering marriage,” but the special part of the story is the climate change fallout happening in the background. In the end, Charles likes it, but says “Kingsolver has trouble maintaining forward momentum.”
In brief: Bookstores affected by Sandy start to rebuild. … Tom Wolfe’s new novel reviewed in the LAT. … A book full of mystery writers’ mystery recommendations. Probably would’ve made a better magazine article, but looks OK. … This poor guy wrote a book called The Cloud Atlas that came out three months after David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. He writes about how the movie adaptation has affected him, in the Awl.