Cover Image: Something New Under the Sun

Something New Under the Sun

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A disturbing look at the downside of Hlywood. A visceral in your face rendering g of what societal and exigical collapse could mean. Haunting in its message.
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DNF about a quarter of the way through the book. The dystopian future was not my jam. The characters seemed like exaggerations. I'm sorry! I tried to expand my genres that I read, but this was not for me.
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It had an intriguing description and everything Kleeman wrote seemed true-to-life or possible in the most cynical way, but the arc of the plot kind of fell flat, with little payoff in service of pretty turns of phrases instead of the other way around.
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"Something New Under the Sun" by Alexandra Kleeman is an unsettling novel that presents a world eerily like ours, with nature and humanity slowly on the decline. Kleeman's story will truly resonate with readers (if not shake them to their core).
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Novelist Patrick Hamlin travels from the East Coast to Los Angeles to work on the television adaptation of his novel, but finds that nothing is quite as he expected it to be. He’s been signed on as a coffee-run assistant rather than in a major production role, the script is barely recognizable as his story, and washed-up actress Cassidy Carter has been cast in a starring part. But <i>Something New Under the Sun</i> is far more than a satire of the film industry, which becomes readily apparent as the environmental dysfunction of Los Angeles and the suspiciously uninvested behavior of the film’s producers grow more and more obvious. Patrick vacillates ineffectively between trying to get a handle on what is happening in LA and attempting to reconnect with his wife Alison, who in his absence has gone with his daughter to a commune with no cell service where the residents mourn each day for the recently-extinct species and vanished glaciers of the planet. On top of everything happening with his career and marriage, Patrick is disturbed by the apparent connections between WAT-R, the synthetic water that has become ubiquitous in drought-stricken Southern California, and a spate of random-onset dementia cases that seem to be growing in frequency.

There is so much going on in this novel that it is pretty impossible to summarize (I’ve already left out all the stuff going on with Cassidy Carter, who has her own motivations and preoccupations), so I’m going to stop trying. Kleeman blends the real, the absurd, and the almost-plausible; in one moment she describes vividly tangible tableaux of the natural world encroaching on a recognizably grungy LA, and in another, a character will butt in with a stultified philosophical pronouncement that no one would utter in real life. Her characters struggle to grasp what is real, what is important, what is leaking away from them as they succumb to WAT-R-induced dementia… Kleeman has a dexterity with slightly-absurd near-reality comparable to that of Pynchon or Nabokov, surreptitiously introducing slightly-weird elements that go almost-unnoticed by reader and characters alike. Most compelling (and disturbing) is the way Kleeman uses the disconnect between Alison’s and Patrick’s perspectives to evoke the paralysis and despair of living in a world that’s slowly being destroyed by our comfortable indifference.

I enjoyed reading this and will definitely be checking out more of Kleeman’s work.

<i>Thank you to Random House, Hogarth for the NetGalley ARC.</i>
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An enthralling fish-out-of-water tale told like a Hollywood industry insider (à la Day of the Locust) set in the familiar contours of a corrupt and clueless near-future waterless California (think: Chinatown) that’s on fire. Entertaining and chilling. Delighted to include this riveting read in “What to read in August,” the August installment of my monthly top fiction picks column for Zoomer magazine’s Books section.
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This is an unsettling and proactive novel.  While it wasn't a book I enjoyed, I recognize that the prose and imagery were written so well.  I really had problems with the characters and the sometimes slow parts of the book where I didn't really know where it was going.  I was really interested in it from the description but it didn't work for me.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review this ARC.

https://www.instagram.com/dani.reads.too.much/
https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/4725184-daniela-arena
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“Adulthood was a curious inversion of childhood helplessness; you were pinned in place by what was below you and around you, by what you owned and loved, rather than any sort of higher authority.”

“..it takes strength to believe in what’s not there. To insist that something is true when your eyes and ears and brain and heart tell you it’s not.” 

In this story, set in a near-future dystopia, we follow Patrick, an author. He’s been flown across the country, to Hollywood, to work on the film adaptation of his novel, but as a PA and with no agency over how his novel translates to film, no participation in the screenwriting process, but instead hired as an assistant and chauffeur to Cassidy Carter, the star of the film. With his marriage on edge, his wife and daughter having driven north to a compound in Maine, Patrick begins to suspect something isn’t quite right with the production of the film. With wildfires engulfing most of California, most of the west coast population is relying on a synthetic form of water called WAT-R, which is being mass produced by a suspicious new company. Cassidy appears to be one of the only people who doesn’t drink WAT-R and thus sets out to investigate this company alongside Patrick — I won’t say more than that as I don’t want to ruin any of the secrets before you’ve even had a chance to see them unravel. 

In this novel there’s a mix of detective noir fiction, conspiracy theories, familial drama, satire, with elements of humor, an environmental crisis, and capitalism. 

I found this book to be so Smart, with a capital S. Truly unique and unsettling to say the least. An entertaining whirlwind of a novel, where at times I felt I was escaping into a Black Mirror episode, yet also interwoven were some beautiful passages that I couldn’t help but highlight.

I found Alexandra Kleeman’s writing style to be so refreshing, with an important message on climate change, wrapped in dark humor - all of which I truly appreciated. 

This may not be the book for everyone, and is a little more plot heavy than I’m typically drawn toward, but I can’t deny the admirable quality to Kleeman’s writing and her overall message. 

If you’re looking for an environmental dystopia that’s witty, fun and outright weird, this is the book for you. 

I can’t wait to purchase a final copy so that I can reread and annotate because this book definitely deserves a spot on my shelf. 


*Thank you to Hogarth for providing me with this ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I truly appreciate it.*

**The quote included is from a digital advanced reader’s copy and is subject to change upon final publication.**
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Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Alexandra Kleeman’s novel, Something New Under the Sun, in exchange for an honest review.

Patrick Hamlin is thrilled and beyond flattered to learn that his novel will be turned into a major Hollywood movie. His ego is further stroked when he is invited to be a production assistant. Patrick’s dreams are soon crushed, when he realizes that he is a glorified water boy and that his screenplay bears little resemblance to his novel. 

Still dazzled by the idea that this could be his Hollywood “In” Patrick sticks around and becomes a chauffeur for the leading lady, Cassidy Carter. Cassidy Carter is a former child star and notorious party girl. She is trying to break-free from her association with the character that made her famous, a teen detective. This hit show not only propelled her to stardom, but inspired a cult-like following that believes that the show was riddled with hidden messages that affect the real world. 

While people are focused on conspiracies and Hollywood, a real life and death scandal is unfolding on the west coast. Severe droughts have created a situation where a synthetic water product called “Wat-r” has replaced much of the real water. The product is insidious, and only the very wealthy are able to access authentic water. Cassidy even negotiates to be paid in real water for her role. 

Wat-R has been linked to cognitive decline in certain individuals, affecting people of all ages and races. This situation has been shrouded in secrecy with the affected being whisked away to private hospitals, but the more popular that Wat-R becomes, the more people are being affected, and the problem is increasingly more difficult to hide. Patrick and Cassidy begin to suspect that the producers of their film are involved in a nefarious Wat-R scheme and they become amateur sleuths, not unlike Cassidy’s former character.

Something New Under the Sun is an anxiety producing read. It deals with some true fears of mine, including extreme drought, harmful substances, and general environmental woes. I finished Kleeman’s novel this morning and the first news story I read was about a dire climate change report. Something New Under the Sun takes place in a near-future and it is not unreasonable to think that some of the fictional results from this story could be a reality. 

I’m originally from Los Angeles, it’s always going to be my home. Kleeman did an excellent job with her descriptions of the city and the landscape, including the Palm Desert area. She also does a fabulous job at creating the characters that populate a movie set, those opportunistic loafers who are just waiting for their own big break. It’s an interesting contrast to have a story regarding the doom of humanity set against  the Hollywood movie scene.

Although I found the premise and the characters to be intriguing, I struggled to connect with the story, especially during the last third. Possibly my connecting block came from the sheer volume of anxiety I felt thinking about my beloved hometown devolving into a wasteland. It’s a bleak novel. Also, I think the end took such a strange and surreal twist that I wanted off the ride. My mind was wandering and I found myself skimming the last thirty or so pages.
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Near future Hollywood, privatized water, corruption, and a novelist protagonist—perfect mix for a future that feels more near than I’d like to admit. Alexandra Kleeman did a fantastic job of easy to follow writing, wit, and a plot that was easy to follow. She made this future feel real and raw and as I was reading, felt myself cringe so many times. Overall, this book did exactly what a good book is supposed to do—make you feel something and for me, that something was fear and anxiety, but that doesn’t mean to not read this book. The exact opposite—go read it! Easily a 5 star read!
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I’m sitting here after finishing this book like 😶😮 

If this review seems a little all over the place and sporadic, it’s because it is and the book made me this way 🤣 

This book is super unique to anything else I’ve ever read so it’s hard to give a straight review! It kinda gives me Fahrenheit 451/Orwell’s 1984 vibes. Dystopian-y, but sometimes you forget that it’s not set in present day. 

This book felt like a satirical commentary on our society, but also hit a little too close to home at times. It really made you think. I felt like I knew what was going on, then didn’t, then did, then didn’t, and yet enjoyed it the whole time. Some things went way over my head, but then still ended up making sense later on in the book. 

Alexandra’s writing is insanely amazing. I’m not sure it’d be for everyone, because it can be pretty dense, but it is soo captivating.
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Thank you to NetGalley & Hogarth for the ARC.

A fun, genre-pulverizing romp around LA that draws easy parallels to Pynchon, Chinatown, and, in my opinion, The Big Lebowski. In short, there are many ***characters*** in Hollywood, and those characters like getting into bizarre shenanigans. In a generalizing manner, genre fiction focuses on the action, while literary fiction lingers in the consequences of the action--the reflection, the emotional turmoil, and how it builds or destroys relationships. Under that categorization, this book is certainly literary fiction, more concerned with the emotional interior than surface-level tension. This isn't an admonishment, but just a heads up for potential readers.


I found the characters aggravating at first, and worried that the cast of characters would never rise above hysterical versions of Hollywood tropes, scurrying about for cheap laughs. However, the main relationship won me over, and Kleeman kept developing the characters with a natural knack for describing the emotional interior. Once we set the characters in motion, the (admittedly small) moments of adventure find a new balance with the character reflections. I loved the tie-in with Cassidy's previous show, Kassi Keene: Kid Detective, I loved how WAT-R had monopolized the hydration market in California, and I loved the mysterious disease that underpinned the dark thrust of the story. 


I also enjoyed the role that nature plays throughout the novel, as characters do their best to reconnect to nature, even as the environment grows more hostile. Although Kleeman likes showing off her writing skills a little too much in these sections, they are nevertheless poignant, and uncomfortably timely given our current drought and wildfires. They also appear to be markers of time. As in, certain aspects of nature ground us to the incomprehensibly long history of Earth (at least incomprehensible to our small human lives). At other times, nature turns without warning, acting as a force of destruction or a locus of change enacted by humans, a reminder that the natural world, set in its patterns, can easily be disrupted by us.
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First, a disclaimer: I received this e-book in advance of publication in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own opinions. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with this book. 

Rating this book is difficult because it is a genre mash-up… but I loved it. This is a  dystopian detective novel/cli-fi book with elements of social commentary set in a sort Hollywood setting. I fell in love with Alexandra Kleeman's weird writing when I read "You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine". Now I am convinced that it is more than a fluke and that she is an auto-buy author for me. 

CAWPILE Score: 64
Star Rating: 5
Pages: 352
Read on E-Book
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Alexandra Kleeman's new novel is an ambitious in scope and hilarious novel about climate change, Hollywood, family/parenting, and the end of the world. I admired her ability to satirize different elements of contemporary life while also keeping the story engaging and compelling.
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What a fascinating novel this turned out to be.! Such an interesting premise and powerful , quick-witted writing.
Part part cli-fy, part madcap, part contemporary satire. I just loved the fresh look at all too current issues in the world today.

In Something New Under the Sun, we meet Patrick, a novelist who has strangely agreed to work as a PA on the film adaptation of his newest novel. His wife seems to have run off to a cult like program in Maine while he struggles in California to make sense of the film business and Cali culture in general. 
 
He is under qualified for his PA job and ends up being assigned to drive the starlet of the film, Cassidy Carter to and from her home. for filming. Cassidy is the typical starlet who has issues with arriving on time or arriving at all to the set. Underpinning the story is a near future description of the West Coast without water, the entire population relies on a new chemical compound called WAT-R to survive. As Patrick notices more and more inconsistencies on set with WAT-R seeming to be a large part of it., he tries to convince his young spoiled actress to resume her previous tv detective role and help him investigate.

Beautiful writing, absurd situations, outlandish moments and cutting commentary - this is a book to read! There were times when I was unsure of the point of view I was following, but I loved every bit of it. Recommended to all those Tom Robins readers in particular.

Thanks to @netgalley and #Penguinbooks for this ARC in exchange for a fair review.
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This takes some patience and it won't be for everyone but it's definitely interesting.  Set in California in the near future, it's more or less the story of how Patrick, a novelist whose work has been turned sideways for a film adaptation, and Cassidy, the young star,  travel throughout Los Angeles in search of answers about WAT-R, a synthetic water. Whew. Patrick's wife and daughter are at a retreat, he's at loose ends, and the world is spiraling.  There's an issue of green vans picking up people who have a mysterious form of dementia (I kept thinking about Soylent Green).  This goes all over the place, making it hard to put into a box.   The dialogue is at times so unrealistic as to be laughable.  At the same time, I, and those who find themselves pulled in, wanted to know what would happen.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  For fans of literary fiction.
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Really enjoyed this book at times, then the plot turned too black to enjoy, but the vision of doom was riveting. Something New is a book I would recommend wholeheartedly to anyone ready for a challenging read and willing to be left with lots of ambiguity at the end. The movie satire wes very well done and provided a non threatening entrance into a really scary book.
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It's fun to have a new Pynchonesque semi-dystopian madcap conspiracy thriller! This is a shaggy, wild, arch story about a screenwriter, a Hollywood starlet, a sketchy movie production, and a creepy privatized water ("WAT-R") company that's running the entire supply in California. It's stuffed--maybe overstuffed--with little flights of fancy like a group of PAs who speak in heightened philosophical dialogue, a web forum of conspiracy theorists obsessed with a teen detective show, a commune dedicated to mourning the extinction of the earth, and the many commercial absurdities of the WAT-R company. Kleeman's language really soars in the descriptive passages. They're weird, beautiful, extreme, and grandiose. And the dialogue is intentionally unrealistic but stylistically consistent, funny, and thoughtful.

With the Pynchon influence, I knew not to expect threads to be neatly tied. However, I did struggle with some of the fundamental world-building, which is harder to forgive than messy endings. There were unresolved questions that plagued my reading: Why did a screenwriter sign on to be the PA for his own movie adaptation? How did a company take over the entire water supply in California but the East Coast is seemingly untouched by it? Is there no government? The lack of a mention of governmental oversight was frustrating from a narrative and substantive perspective. I would've completely believed if governmental reps had been bought out by WAT-R, but instead we get an anarchic libertarian world where the only choices are personal choices--either decide to mourn, decide to be complicit, or become renegades trying to resist. The stakes for the conspiracy investigation might've been more interesting if we knew what accountability would've looked like. Are there journalists in this world? Activists? Is everyone sort of lobotomized?

I get that it's a cynical dystopia, but I at least wanted to understand more about how and why it became the way it is. Maybe it's saying there's no way out IRL, which could be true, but I wished for some means of change in this world, even if these characters are doomed.
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Special thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for an early copy of this book. WOW. This is the story of author Patrick Hamlin visiting California to oversee the production of one of his books being made into a movie. Cassidy Carter, a famous actress, is casted as the lead to start in the film. The two begin an unlikely friendship and begin to discover corruption within their community. The story turns near futuristic/dystopian and is a bit unsettling. I got frustrated with the story at times because I was waiting for something big to happen.
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DNF.  My curiosity was piqued by the blurb, but this book was just weird.  Characters going off on monologues when they’re supposed to be in conversation.  Others aimlessly off topic for paragraphs. Scenes changing mid page without warning. Inconsistencies within  paragraphs!  I read as fast as I could, hoping I’d get past whatever was going on and into something that made sense. But no luck. 

Which is unfortunate because the whole near future environmental catastrophe aspects of the book were intriguing! The concept of WAT-R and the pods and scorched earth. I pushed through 20% and it hurt. I had to stop.
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