Reviews of the Week, with Gaël Faye, Linda Bailey, Andrew Smith, and More!

Every weekday we feature a different review on Booklist Online. These reviews are notable for different reasons—they may be starred, or high-demand, or especially relevant to the current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from June 18–21 below.

Monday, June 18

 I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, by Michelle McNamara, read by Gabra Zackman

Part memoir, part true crime, and part homage to author McNamara after her sudden death in 2016, this blockbuster documents nearly a decade of research by the author, who became obsessed with discovering the Golden State Killer’s identity. In the late 1970s and early ’80s, Northern California was a frightening place to live. In under a decade, the GSK committed at least 12 murders and more than 50 rapes. Despite increased police presence, organized civilian patrols, and his being seen on numerous occasions, he was not caught. Gillian Flynn and Patton Oswalt, McNamara’s husband, read their own contributions to the book: a heartfelt introduction filled with praise for McNamara’s research and a touching afterword, respectively.

 

 

Tuesday, June 19

Rabbit & Robot, by Andrew Smith

Cager Messer and his best friend, Billy—both sons of wealthy industrialists—have stolen upon a luxury space cruiser along with Cager’s ever-faithful servant, Rowan. Aboard with them are “cogs”—humanlike android attendants programmed with unsettling, occasionally dangerous emotional instabilities. Then the latest (and last) in a long line of world wars breaks out on Earth below, and Cager and company believe that they’re the last humans in the universe. But before the true horror of that can set in, they must figure out how to defend themselves from the cogs, who have developed a penchant for robotic cannibalism.

 

Wednesday, July 20

 The Monk of Mokha, by Dave Eggers, read by Dion Graham

Eggers’ unaffected yet cinematic style of storytelling is an ideal match for audio, and narrator Graham doesn’t disappoint. This is the account of Mokhtar, the American-born son of Yemeni immigrants. In his early twenties, Mokhtar realizes a passion for coffee and his homeland. He dedicates himself to bringing Yemen-farmed coffee to the world and improving the economic and working conditions of Yemeni coffee-bean farmers.

 

 

 

Thursday, July 21

 Small Country, by Gaël Faye

French hip-hip artist and debut novelist Faye’s semiautobiographical tale of 10-year-old Gabriel and his family living through the turmoil in Burundi and Rwanda in the early 1990s explores the classic themes of home and identity overlaid with the horrors of genocide and fleeing refugees. Yvonne, Gabriel’s mother, is a Tutsi from Rwanda married to a Frenchman, Michel, in a union that embodies the complex conflicts underpinning colonial relationships. Faye’s look at the slow poisoning of minds as some groups are designated as Other offers a close-up of the beast that is mob mentality.

 

 

Friday, July 22

 Mary Who Wrote Frankenstein, by Linda Bailey, illustrated by Júlia Sardà

Bailey relates Shelley’s childhood, rebellious adolescence, and participation in the now-famous writing competition that spawned the mad Dr. Frankenstein and his monster as a fantastic story in its own right. Her writing is warm and inclusive, posing occasional questions directly to the reader and establishing Shelley as a spirited dreamer. No less astonishing are Sardà’s folk art–style illustrations, which employ deep, moody hues—burgundy, plum, black, gray, and midnight blue—to create hauntingly detailed scenes.

 

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About the Author:

Eugenia Williamson is the former Associate Editor of Digital Products at Booklist.

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