Cline, Ernest. Ready Player One. Crown. Aug. 2011. NAp. ISBN 9780307887436. $NA.
Reportedly bought for something like $500,000 and already slated for filming, this novel from Fanboys screenwriter Cline features a geeky kid named Wade Watts who escapes everyday grayness by getting caught up in a worldwide virtual utopia called Oasis. There he finds himself on a virtual treasure hunt for a very real treasure. Described by online film critic Harry Knowles as the most awesome 80’s geek novel ever written (never mind the futuristic setting) and by as a blend of Avatar, The Matrix, and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, this book promises to be really, really big. Get it, probably in multiples.

My Pick
Geda, Fabio. In the Sea There Are Crocodiles: The Story of Enaiatollah Akbari. Doubleday. Aug. 2011. 176p. ISBN 9780385534734. $21.95. eISBN 9780385534741.
When Enaiatollah Akbari left his tiny Afghan village with his mother, he was only ten years old, and he had no idea what an arduous journey lay before him‚ a journey that eventually led him, alone, from the Pakistani city where he and his mother had fled to Iran, Turkey, Greece, and, finally, Italy. There he met Italian novelist Geda, whom he asked to tell his story. Having helped Akbari to reconstruct events and give them lyric shape, Geda is so scrupulous that he insists on calling this fiction. But the book reads like a conversation between the two, with Geda occasionally posing questions. The result, both affecting and unaffected, powerfully delivers one child’s story of survival while bringing us close to the violence, human trafficking, and religious divisions that characterize Akbari’s part of the world. A major best seller in Italy and France, with rights sold to over 20 more countries, this book would seem to be on its way. Another Kite Runner? It’s certainly a lovely read.

Giraldi, William. Busy Monsters. Norton. Aug. 2011. 224p. ISBN 9780393079623. $23.95.
Charles Homar is indeed busy with the monsters. His fiancée has dumped him to go hunt for giant squids, and he sets out to win her back by seeking the advice of strange creatures (e.g., Big Foot, space aliens) and reporting on his findings in a national glossy. Bit of buzz for this debut, and it sounds nicely wacky.

Levien, David. Thirteen Million Dollar Pop. Doubleday. Aug. 2011. 320p. ISBN 9780385532532. $24.95. eISBN 9780385532549.
Hired to protect prominent businessman‚ turned‚ political candidate Bernard Bernie Cool Kolodnik, private investigator Frank Behr proves his worth by saving Kolodnik when an attempt is made on his life. But he’s really not sure what happened when those automatic weapons started blazing, and he’s even more suspicious when the police hush up the incident. Levien has Edgar and Shamus nominations to his credit and seems to be building. Thriller fans should definitely investigate.

Pierre, DBC. Lights Out in Wonderland. Norton. Aug. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780393081237. $25.95.
Dazzling if coruscating invention or vulgar overreach? That was the mixed (and assuredly passionate) response to Pierre’s first novel, Vernon God Little, which won the Man Booker Prize. Expect the same response here: this latest has the verbal wit and vitality of that first book, says the Financial Times. Then there’s the plot: Gabriel Brockwell has decided to kill himself, but first he wants to go to Wonderland‚ that is, have the party of parties, the bash of bashes, which takes him ’round the world for some wild times. Glitter for your literati.

Polansky, Daniel. Low Town. Doubleday. Aug. 2011. 384p. ISBN 9780385534468. $25.95. eISBN 9780385534475. Download: Random Audio.
Low Town is exactly as it sounds, a scummy place collecting the dregs of the Thirteen Lands and run by a former agent with Black House (the secret police) who’s fallen from grace. Now he deals drugs and dispenses violence, but a child’s murder gives him pause‚ and forces him into an uneasy game with both Black House and the underground bosses. Noir fantasy, indeed, with a reading group guide, lots of promotion to mystery, thriller, and fantasy sites, and five foreign rights sales so far.

Preston, Douglas & Lincoln Child. Cold Vengeance. Grand Central. Aug. 2011. 400p. ISBN 9780446554985. $26.96. lrg. prnt. CD: Hachette Audio.
Here’s a twist for Pendergast. He’s on a trip with brother-in-law Judson Esterhazy when catastrophe strikes, leaving Pendergast seriously wounded. Before abandoning him, Esterhazy tells Pendergast that his wife, Helen, is still alive. Now Pendergast has a reason to stay alive himself‚ he starts hunting for Helen and thereby upsets a shady international organization no end. This second in a trilogy about Helen’s reputed death; the first book made all the best sellers lists and won a skyload of stars; thriller readers everywhere will want.

Unger, Lisa. Darkness, My Old Friend. Crown. Aug. 2011. 336p. ISBN 9780307464996. $24.
Willow spots a man digging up a dead body, then drops her cell phone as she runs away. He returns it, explaining to her mom that he was hunting for an abandoned mine shaft. Willow’s mom is intrigued when she discovers that he has been trying to figure out what happened to his mother, who vanished decades ago; a psychic he’s hired has a vision of a man named Jones, who’s just resigned as Chief of Police because he was involved in a young woman’s death. Okay, now you know why the publisher calls Unger’s plots surprising. There’s definitely something creepy going on in this latest from the New York Times best seller; read it to find out what, and let’s hope Unger can take care of all those complications. With a reading group guide.

My Pick
Waldman, Amy. The Submission. Farrar. Aug. 2011. 528p. ISBN 9780374271565. $27.
Ten years after 9/11, writing about the attacks without seeming to exploit them can still be a challenge. Debut novelist Waldman takes an effective approach by imagining a search for a fitting memorial that ends up revealing the divisions underlying American society. A member of the jury choosing the memorial, Claire‚ who lost her husband on 9/11 and now finds herself cast as a star widow‚ champions a garden whose walls contain the names of the dead. The design wins, the anonymous submission is opened, and the architect is revealed to be Muslim American‚ born here, hardly a practitioner of his faith, and not ready to fall into the role of the enemy. At first glance, Waldman’s tale unfolds in fluid, accessible language, and the issues raised here will deeply engage readers.

Wright, Austin. Tony and Susan. Grand Central. Aug. 2011. 334p. ISBN 9780446582902. $24.99. CD: Hachette Audio.
Remarried to a successful doctor, Susan Morrow receives a manuscript from her ex-husband with a note begging her to read it. Soon she’s drawn into a tale about an ordinary family suddenly beset by violence. Did her ex just want her critical comments, or is there a deeper meaning here? This novel was originally published by a small house in 1993 and reprinted in 1994 by Warner (which became Grand Central). The publisher feels that it never got its due and is republishing the book worldwide and marketing it as a modern classic. (Too late for the author, though, who’s deceased.) So listen up.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Daniel Polansky, Barbara Hoffert. Barbara Hoffert said: #PrepubAlert Fave fiction this week: Fabio Geda's In the Sea There Are Crocodiles, memoir cum fiction of Afghan boy […]