The Read edigest: Monday 12 August 2013

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Book reviews
In The Mannequin Makers, Craig Cliff  “has crafted a brilliantly structured and evocative story.”
Book Review: The Curiosity, by Stephen Kiernan

David Hill reviews Duncan Sarkies’ new book on Nine to Noon – The Demolition of the Century

New Release Books
New Release: Surviving Centrepoint, by Ella James

New Release: Te Ara: Maori Pathways of Leadership

Bring the littlies to Mt Roskill Library on Friday 16 August for National Poetry Day w/A Little Ink

#nzpba events: Jarrod Gilbert is talking tomorrow at Canterbury Uni, Rob Brown talks huts at Scorpio Books

#nzpba events:  The @womensbookshop celebrates poetry tomorrow with Ian Wedde & Anne Kennedy

Book News
This has been on the Nielsen list for weeks: read an extract from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
Faction Comics has their second anthology of work by NZ’s best comic artists due in August

Author interview: Award-winning author Craig Cliff on his uneasy relationship with historical fiction

Awards News
Our reviews of #nzpba New Zealand Post Awards finalist books

#nzpcba Picture book winner Gavin Bishop tells the NZ Herald about his happy place

Check out what our #nzpba finalists are talking about in the lead-up to the awards by subscribing to our list

From around the internet
This infographic shows how often different cities appear in books

Why Jonathon Franzen gets your goat…

Damien Wilkins feels the love for X Factor

Book-inspired icecream flavours… any suggestions for kiwi book flavours?

Attention sci-fi fans! @goodreads has a handy list of Julius Vogel nominees& winners – go and take a look

Check out this quirky and informative video on the history of typography!

Meet the press: shrewd tips for book publicity 

Book Review: The Curiosity, by Stephen Kiernan

I picked this book up for its cover quote fromcv_the_curiosity Justin Cronin (The Passage), and I’m pleased I did. It has been awhile since I read a book that engulfed me as much as The Curiosity did. When I wasn’t reading it, I was thinking about it, trying to guess at the main character’s next moves.

The Curiosity is told from several points of view. Dr Kate Philo is the lead scientist on an Arctic expedition. This expedition is bankrolled by the arrogant genius scientist Erastus Carthage, and the aim is to find ‘Hard Ice’, a type of ice that has previously yielded animal specimens that have proven to be able to be reanimated. Also on the ship is hack science and nature journalist Daniel Dixon.

Dr Philo and her team find a man frozen in the ice. They successfully extricate him, and the Lazarus Project is born. While the morality is questioned from day one, Carthage overrides everybody to ensure that reanimation takes place, and we are introduced gradually to Judge Jeremiah Rice, who died while on an Arctic exploration over 100 years before.

This book is a love story, but without the purple prose. It is a story of wonder, a story of intrigue, and a story of morality. Can they really bring somebody back from the dead for no reason other than to see if it can be done – and what responsibility do they then have to keep him alive? What is the best way to utilise the science, and at what point can they say ‘Subject One’ will stay alive, and thus open the floodgates for the cryogenics industry to walk through?

Author Stephen Kiernan deals well with keeping his story anchored without going overboard in any direction.  Love, science and story are all well-balanced, for the most part. There were a few points that I thought should have been explored more thoroughly, particularly finding the judge’s living descendants – he became an instant celebrity, and the press hounded him without uncovering anything new. While we are acquainted with a possible family member, this is never explored.

I think this book is going to strike a chord with a lot of readers. It is an ably-written story with enough conspiracy theory in it to make the reader want to stay ahead of the play, while having a gently-handled love story underpinning it, and a fascinating unreliable narrator in the person of the vilified genius Carthage. I think it has several of the elements that drew people to The Da Vinci Code, but the writing is stronger.

I look forward to reading more fiction from Stephen Kiernan.

Reviewed by Sarah Forster (Booksellers NZ)

The Curiosity
by Stephen Kiernan
Published by John Murray (Hachette)
ISBN 9781848548763