From School Library Journal
Grade 8 Up–This esoteric short-story collection celebrates creative and expressive literature in a big, broad way. Lanagan's themes range from reckoning to healing, and her conflicts tackle eating disorders, terrorists, and self-empowerment. One heartening story, Big Rage, is a modern-day social take on Beauty and the Beast. At once romantic and tragic, filled with rough-and-tumble jousting scenes, it is the story of a woman whose control-freak husband continually overshadows her, and she is broken by his opinion of who, and what, she is. When she stumbles upon a wounded man on a beach, she takes a risk and helps save him. Slowly, she begins to heal. Nested within the artful prose and riveting action of these stories is writing that challenges readers with fantastical and emotional dexterity. Here are intricate styles, genres, and examples of the lengths an author can go to raise storytelling to personal, profound, and mysterious heights. The selections are not simple to navigate through, but if given the concentration they deserve, they reveal an unfettered sensitivity, intelligence, and humanistic conscience.–Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
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Gr. 8-11. Although this is the second story collection by Australian author Lanagan to reach American readers, it was actually published abroad several years before her 2006 Printz Honor Book, Black Juice.
Fans of Lanagan's fantastical, often surreal sensibility will regard its arrival as long overdue. Further showcasing her mastery of the craft, each story underscores Lanagan's talent for inspiring curiosity, disturbing sensibilities, and provoking thought. The collection comprises 10 stories of varying lengths that together demonstrate great versatility and highlight the author's talent for inventing entirely new realities and subtly shifting our own. The futuristic title story features a girl whose career exploration project finds her floating in a reservoir of "time out of time," where she is mentored by a troubled man who redirects stuck entities from other parts of the universe. "The Queen's Notice," set in an antlike hive, follows a befuddled warrior-creature whose valor requires him to assume a new role. In "Tell and Kiss," physical weight is accumulated by the unhealthy storage of thought and feeling, creating a problem for a boy secretly falling for his best female friend. The singular perspectives, environments, goals, and challenges of Lanagan's distinctive characters will both intrigue and stimulate teen minds. Holly KoellingCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved