Rapper A$AP Rocky meshes his laid-back lyrical persona with a melodic sound, delivering an impressive piece of work with just a few flaws on his debut album, Long.Live.A$AP.
Much of the 12-track set is an easy listen with solid production from Jim Jonsin, Hit-Boy, T-Minus and Clams Casino. The 24-year-old, who hails from Harlem, N.Y., raps with abstract rhymes and metaphors that are easy to grasp on songs like Goldie and Phoenix.
He shows an abundant amount of bravado on LVL, declaring his emergence as hip-hop’s next big star. And he holds his own on the catchy hit, (Expletive) Problems, which features Drake, Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz.
The only thing missing from Long.Live.A$AP is a theme or story line to help us learn more about A$AP Rocky and what he stands for as an artist.
— Jonathan Landrum Jr.
A Clockwork Orange: 50th anniversary edition
Norton has republished Anthony Burgess’ novel A Clockwork Orange in hardcover in honor of its 50th anniversary.
It’s a very entertaining, not-nearly-as-dense-as-might-be-feared novel written in a future slang made up of what seems to be Russian and invented words. It got good reviews from serious critics such as Kingsley Amis, bad reviews from the less-serious press, and was a miserable commercial failure. (It sold fewer than 4,000 copies in England.)
I’ve long maintained that nobody would have heard of Burgess’ novel — and quite possibly of Burgess — had it not been for Stanley Kubrick’s 1972 film version. I love Kubrick, but I think his film is inferior to the book, and so did Burgess, who grew mightily irritated by the director’s appropriation of the cultural entity known as A Clockwork Orange.
Nevertheless, the movie was a huge hit, and drove a million or so readers over the years to the original novel, in addition to giving Burgess a far more lucrative literary career than he had previously had.
The edition that Norton has published has been drawn from Burgess’ original manuscript, without some of the minor edits that were imposed by British and American editors. Also included are some facsimile pages from the manuscript, and a very interesting chapter from an unfinished book by Burgess that was intended to be his response to the film.
— Scott Eyman
The Fifth Assassin
Brad Meltzer writes his first sequel, a follow-up to 2011’s The Inner Circle, and delivers one of his best books to date.
In The Fifth Assassin, Meltzer skillfully makes the narrative accessible to newcomers without alienating fans who are familiar with The Inner Circle. And readers will be richly rewarded.
Beecher White works as a top researcher for the National Archives. He is secretly a member of the Culper Ring, an organization with origins tracing back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. Beecher has proof of a crime the president doesn’t want to become public.
Four presidents have fallen to assassin’s bullets over the course of U.S. history. What if the men responsible were part of a sinister group? Now it appears that a killer is re-enacting their deaths, down to the placement of the bullets and the weapon used in the assassinations.
History and suspense collide in shocking ways — and the intensity never lets up. Beecher carries the weight of the story. He’s a great character who will resonate with readers since he’s like the fun next-door neighbor or your best friend in college.
The ending of The Fifth Assassin appears to announce that Beecher White will return, and that cannot come fast enough.
— Jeff Ayers