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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 06/2020
  • B086CDQXZX
  • 216 pages
  • $4.99
Kiki Denis
Author
Life Is Big
Kiki Denis, author

Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

Alma-Jane, an impossibly curious 11-year-old girl who lives in NYC and the most genetically happy person alive, is about to die due to a rare mutation. Ayrton, Alma-Jane’s older brother and a math prodigy, declares war against Death, “the destroyer of Life,” and then suddenly takes off to Oxford, UK, to examine Albert Einstein’s brain. Meanwhile, Death and his younger brother, O.M. (Obituary Man), are overworked and in desperate need of a short vacation. At the heart of all this, a motley crew of “Minor & Major Immortals” mingle: Socrates, Alma-Jane’s dead grandfather. Dr. Harvey, a neuroscientist who conducts research on “Pure Mighties,” lab engineered mice that lack a fear gene. Sabina, Einstein’s Kunderian mistress. Alfred Butts, Sabina’s best friend and the inventor of the Scrabble board game. Pablo Neruda, who builds bridges for a living and loves kite flying. And, finally, ΩNING, a 7-year-old humanoid who loves playing the piano. What connects all these characters is the belief that “wise-thinking” leads to a longer and happier future, and that it’s the only way to guarantee a “Life bigger than Death.”
Plot/Idea: 10 out of 10
Originality: 10 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 8.75 out of 10

Assessment:

Plot: Denis's crackling, clever, and intricately plotted novel unfolds at almost breakneck speed. Readers will be immediately engaged by the book’s inventive, absurdist premise and far-reaching examinations of  life, death, and the pitfalls of being human.

Prose/Style: Denis's text is compulsively readable and clear, though at times stiff and simplistic in delivery.

Originality: Denis's novel is refreshingly original and well-developed. Though there are elements that lend themselves to sci-fi, the novel avoids genre trappings, instead striking a charmingly esoteric and idiosyncratic note all its own.

Character Development: Inconsistent character development is a minor hinderance in an otherwise captivating and memorable novel. AJ, Mighty-11, and Lila are standout, lively, and engaging characters that are worthy of a cast of characters that pull equal weight.

Date Submitted: April 28, 2020

Reviews
Denis (The Last Day of Paradise) tackles life, death, happiness, time, genetics, and consciousness in this smart, funny novel. Alma-Jane, an 11-year-old New Yorker, is doomed to die because of the genetic mutation that also resulted in her heretofore-unseen perfect Genetic Happiness score. Her brilliant 14-year-old brother, Ayrton, wants to save her. So does Raduska Smith, an old woman with a GH score of zero. From there, the novel sprawls out wildly, introducing Alma-Jane’s synesthete friend Alejandro, who thinks minds are made up of “little brain people”; Laszlo, a game designer with a piece of Einstein’s brain in a jar; Mighty-11, a mouse genetically engineered to be fearless; and immortal beings including Pablo Neruda, Scrabble inventor Alfred Butts, the cake-baking Death, and his brother OM (Obituary Man).

The book is a riot of philosophical debates and surreal details. Characters use the online Overall Happiness scale created by anonymous supergeek Cornelis; the chat site GreatImmortality.org, “where you go and communicate with any book hero or any dead, but important and famous person”; and MinorImmortality.org, “where common people are stored after death.” During one such chat, Albert Einstein mentions that he’s been spending a lot of time with Sabina from Milan Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being. One scene takes place at a scientific conference, another at a town meeting in the world of the dead.

The question of whether Alma-Jane will survive is just the jumping-off point for the declaration of a war against death, discussions about the role of fear and bravery in survival and how to define happiness, and revelations of unforeseen connections among the characters. The prose can sometimes be a bit stiff, many characters have similar voices, and the children are implausibly precocious. Nonetheless, this novel is clever, witty, inventive, and full of heart. Readers who love solving puzzles and eavesdropping on existential ponderings will eat it up.

Takeaway: This innovative and witty novel will delight logophiles and puzzle-solvers.

Great for fans of Tom Robbins’s Jitterbug Perfume, Robin Sloan, Jasper Fforde.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: B+
Illustrations: -
Editing: A-
Marketing copy: A-

Editor-in-chief, Les Éditions du Portrait

"Underneath Ms. Denis's writing you always find meanings and at some point if not happiness, peace of mind, despite of pain and sadness. Ms. Denis writes about feelings and ideas that seem contradictory but running deep into them she'll bring you to the core of life where complexity, sensitivity and intelligence bring you to your humanity." ---Rachèle Bevilacqua, editor-in-chief, Les Éditions du Portrait

Maria Antelman, Artist

"LIFE IS BIG presents simple and yet deep existential concepts about life, combining Ancient Greek language and philosophical ideas with new technological inventions.  Kiki's writing seems light and feels funny and yet carries an undercover darkness." ---Maria Antelman

News
06/08/2020
#42 on kindle Literary-fiction today

Happy to see LIFE IS BIG has reached today 42 in literary fiction!

I am still collecting photos of readers with the e-book cover of LIFE IS BIG. Please feel free to reach out to me (www.kikidenis.com). Many thanks, stay well!
 

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 06/2020
  • B086CDQXZX
  • 216 pages
  • $4.99

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