Reviews

27 Dec 2017

The Last Neanderthal by Claire Cameron

Building on research that rehabilitated Neanderthal culture in the popular view, Cameron has created a story around the possible first encounter between a young Neanderthal woman and local homo sapiens. In a parallel story she follows the paleoanthropologist who discovers the female Neanderthal’s remains.

27 Dec 2017

Artemis by Andy Weir

I loved Weir’s geeky but gripping The Martian, and Artemis is a great second novel, this time with the brilliant but flawed Jazz Bahara as the character in all kinds of trouble, who has to use hard science to survive numerous dangers.

18 Dec 2017

The Beat of the Pendulum by Catherine Chidgey

Catherine Chidgey recorded and transcribed a year of her life, and using just those foundwords – from conversations, from the Internet, from TV and movies – wrote The beat of the pendulum. The title comes from a Proust quote, where he described novelists as ‘wildly accelerating the beat of the pendulum’. There is an actual pendulum in Chidgey’s novel, it is of the old style that needs adjusting occasionally for it to keep time accurately, and the year of the novel – 2016 – had to have a second added to make it a full year. Time may be adjusted for accuracy, but it is inexorable.

18 Dec 2017

Heloise by Mandy Hager

“Of all my frustrations with the Christian Church, besides its demonising of women, there are two that most confound me: the preoccupation with unquestioning obedience and the notion of original sin.” So says one of Heloise’s early teachers – a Jew who was forced to convert and who along with her daughter had faced the worst that the patriarchal society of 12th Century France could inflict. And Heloise’s exploration of the life and character of Heloise is unflinching in its descriptions of the endless abuse and disempowerment of women.

18 Dec 2017

Iceland by Dominic Hoey

This is an absolutely riveting debut novel. Told from alternating points of view of two young artists, one a musician and the other a painter, whose gifts are thwarted by drugs, violence and a corrupted world view.

27 Nov 2017

Nothing Bad Happens Here by Nikki Crutchley

Miller Hatcher is getting over a relationship and the recent death of her mother, with the help of alcohol, when she gets the opportunity to write a feature story that might land her the job of head reporter for the national magazine she works for, First Look. Sergeant Kahu Parata is a local cop at the small Coromandel town of Castle Bay where Miller will hopefully write her masterpiece. Kahu knows all the locals and turns a blind eye to some of their misdemeanours, and he is annoyed when a team from Auckland are sent to work the case that Miller intends to cover – the discovery of the body of a missing tourist, Bethany Haliwell.