Straw House, Wood House, Brick House, Blow

Daniel Nayeri. Candlewick, $19.99 (416p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5526-6
This collection of novellas from Nayeri (Another Pan), written entirely on an iPhone, is a mixed bag; each of the four stories represent a different genre and mood, with little to link them. The strongest is the thought-provoking “Wish Police,” starring the detectives of New York City’s Imaginary Crimes Unit. Can a djinn, a leprechaun, and a talking goldfish prevent a boy’s wish from killing his family? “Doom with a View” is a tongue-in-cheek comedy set in “Old Timey Europe,” which deals with star-crossed love, ill-timed death, and a dastardly prince. There’s a narrative resemblance to The Princess Bride, but the story tries a little too hard to be witty. “Our Lady of Villains” is a thriller set in 2062, on the eve of a corporation’s new nanotech-driven campaign. With its reliance on acronyms, “leetspeak,” IM conversations, and futuristic slang, it’s intriguing, though occasionally hard to follow. The weakest offering is “Toy Farm,” a western-themed whimsy filled with living toys; while atmospheric and moody, it’s also distant and hard to relate to. As a literary experiment, Nayeri’s project succeeds more often than not, but the results are uneven. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/05/2011
Release date: 10/01/2011
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