Reviews of the Week, with Ling Ma, Maria Dahvana Headley, Deb Caletti, 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 25–29 below.


Monday, June 25

 The Mere Wife, by Maria Dahvana Headley

Headley’s (Aerie, 2016) fourth novel is a stunner: a darkly electric reinterpretation of Beowulf that upends its Old English framework to comment on the nature of heroes and how we “other” those different from ourselves. It deftly interweaves a host of contemporary themes, from racial tensions to female power.






Tuesday, June 26

 A Heart in a Body in the World, by Deb Caletti

Caletti rips apart the contradictions of a society that commands women to be compliant and pleasing and then blames them for male responses to their attractiveness, however violent they might be. This timely, well-written novel is crucial reading in the days of #metoo.


Wednesday, June 27

The Plot to Destroy Democracy: How Putin and His Spies are Undermining America and Dismantling the West, by Malcolm Nance

In his prescient The Plot to Hack America, Nance offered informed speculation about how the Russians might meddle. Now Nance is back with more specific information about how that meddling was done, laying out in frightening detail Russia’s plot to upend the world’s democratic norms and promote authoritarian governments.





Thursday, June 28

 I Am Still Alive, by Kate Alice Marshall

Jess hasn’t seen her father in years, so she doesn’t know what to expect when she lands at the remote Alaska airport where he’s supposed to pick her up. With masterful pacing, rich characterization, a dynamic voice, and a thrilling blend of wilderness survival and revenge, this is an engrossing read from a writer to watch.


Friday, June 29

 Severance, by Ling Ma

With apocalyptic fiction having become so popular a genre, how does one approach it with originality, avoiding the too-familiar reference points? Embracing the genre but somehow transcending it, Ma creates a truly engrossing and believable anti-utopian world.




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