I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
PUBLICATION: May 31, 2016 - Henry Holt and Co Publishing
A collection of short stories isn't the easiest thing to pull off. Primarily because the reader is given so many chances to compare stories with other ones from the same author without really having to try hard. Rarely have I read a collection that I have been impressed from cover to cover (except for Fortune Smiles by Adam Smith) because usually some stories are just weaker than others. Its also hard for the author to do anything out the ordinary in a short story format such as create odd characters or different worlds because space is limited to extrapolate on such variations. Not only did Helen Phillips do this, she made a whole book of it!
Each of these stories features a world that is different than ours or characters that aren't "normal". From a woman who moves to a new town and sees copies of herself and others ("The Doppelgangers" - the book's strongest entry IMO) to living in a dome and escaping to live life outside on a farm ("The Beekeeper") each of these stories are enticing because the reader is waiting to figure out this one is different.
And Helen Phillips doesn't wait to pull any punches, she throws a mighty uppercut from page one in "The Knowers", a story set in a time where people are able to find out when they are going to die. What is intriguing in this story, and in others, is that the endings are often left as a cliffhanger, but not in a bad way. The reader is given just enough information to assimilate an opinion as to how this is going to end.
Pain and brutal honest writing is seen in most stories. They read beautifully and the writing is top quality. Phillips has certainly found her craft in the short-story genre.
I love to read and to discuss books. My preferred genre is sci-fi but I like to read mostly anything.