Lots of people think summer is the perfect time for a light and breezy read.
While that book is sure to be in beach bags around the country, here are a few of the most talked about new books that are a bit more heavy, meaning they won’t be soon forgotten.
“The Last Neanderthal,” by Claire Cameron
Think “Clan of the Cave Bear,” but with more literary flare and an ancient and modern timeline entwined. Cameron delivers readers to the prehistoric era where Girl and her family group — Him, Big Mother and Runt, struggle to survive in a changing world. Girl’s vivid quest alternates with the story of archaeologist Rosamund Gale, who has made a groundbreaking discovery in present-day France, a pair of skeletons that appear to be the remains of a Neanderthal and a modern human, locked in an embrace. Today’s humans share up to 4 percent of Neanderthal DNA and Cameron’s book explores what it means to be truly human.
In one of the most anticipated sci-fi novels of the summer, a scavenger named Rachel discovers a strange, sentient creature while picking through the fur of Mord, a gargantuan flying bear that spends its days destroying an apocalyptic city in the near-future. The bear is the failed product of a destroyed bio-tech corporation called The Company, whose experiments roam the city. At night, while the ever-growing bear sleeps, Rachel and others comb its body for ravaged goods. Rachel shares these things with her lover Wink, a former Company employee who turns the materials into drugs that allow people to live the happy memories of others. She names the creature she finds Borne and as it evolves things get even weirder.
Pakistani-born author Mohsin Hamid tells the story of two young people who meet in an unnamed city bursting with migrants and refugees. Conditions in the city begin to deteriorate as violence breaks out between rival factions. Drones patrol the skies and the government cuts off phone signals. As danger rises the couple must escape but there is nowhere to go, until they hear rumors about “doors that could take you elsewhere, often to places far away,” and find someone to take them to this supernatural place. The book has been called a fable and a reflection on the crisis millions of displaced people face today.
The Starz network released Neil Gaiman’s novel, “American Gods,” as a TV series this spring, developed by Clarkston native Bryan Fuller. Gaiman’s latest book, “Norse Mythology,” vividly imagines the lives of legendary Norse gods like Odin, Thor and Loki with wit and humor proving again that Gaiman is a modern storytelling master.
Physics professor James Kakalios explains in layperson’s terms the subatomic world that most of us take for granted in daily life, detailing the physics behind things like touch screens, motion sensors, GPS systems and more that a person touches in a single day.
In his raw, brutally honest memoir to be released Tuesday, June 13, award-winning author Sherman Alexie explores his relationship with his mother, Lillian, a reformed alcoholic who survived a violent past but spun an elaborate facade to hide the truth. The memoir is a rich account of a close-knit but dysfunctional family living on the Spokane Reservation where joblessness, alcoholism, drug abuse, fatal car crashes, violence, rape, murder and child molestation vie with feelings of being denied, and at the same time being taken over by white society.
The tragic story of the ill-fated Donner Party is one of the West’s most infamous but what is true and what details have been embellished over time? Myth-busting historian Michael Wallis, known for his portraits of American figures like Billy the Kid and David Crockett, unearthed new documents to tell the story of the diverse group of 87 individuals who departed for California and numbered 48 when rescued in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. While Wallis explores the lurid aspects of stories of cannibalism, he also delves into family dynamics and the overarching context of westward expansion. Another recently released tale of American tragedy is “The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple,” by Jeff Guinn, a comprehensive and authoritative story of the preacher with new details on the day in 1978 when more than 900 people died.