June brings innovative books that caught Hollywood's eye long before they showed up on beach blankets.
by Daniel Wilson
(Doubleday; movie rights to Amblin/DreamWorks)
Wilson's book about a rogue artificial-intelligence program called Archos that enlists the mundane robots of modern life -- cruise control in cars, talking toy dolls -- to wage war against humans is the sci-fi read of the summer. Sure, there are bits and pieces of Terminator, World War Z and Michael Crichton here, but Wilson, who has a Ph.D. in robotics, adds realism. Steven Spielberg is fast-tracking this for a 2013 release, with Drew Goddard (Lost) penning the script.
Ms. Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
by Ransom Riggs
(Quirk Books; movie rights to Fox)
Sixteen-year-old Jacob discovers that his deceased grandfather's strange stories about magical children on a remote island off the coast of Wales are true, but are peculiar children being kept hidden for their protection or ours? The real, mostly unretouched, period photos sprinkled throughout up the creepy quotient. Picture X-Men imagined by Tim Burton.
Before I Go to Sleep
by S.J. Watson
(HarperCollins; movie rights to Scott Free and BBC Films)
An amnesiac woman must relearn her life every morning from her husband, Ben. A doctor suggests she keep a Memento-style journal but cautions her not to share it. As her memory returns, Ben's version of her past doesn't seem right. One morning her journal entry reads, "Don't trust Ben." That premise plunges the reader into a twisty psychological thriller. Librarians are reporting it's already one of the most requested books of the summer.
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead
by Sara Gran
The title character is the summer's most original new detective: part Lisbeth Salander, part Veronica Mars. After a nervous breakdown, DeWitt, the self-proclaimed "world's greatest" detective, returns to her adopted hometown of New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to search for missing district attorney using the offbeat tactics of her idol, enigmatic French detective Jacques Silette. As DeWitt's hunt progresses, the story flashes back to her teen years as a self-proclaimed "girl detective" in Brooklyn. Beneath the engaging offbeat characters, Claire Dewitt is a haunting story of layered losses and attempted recoveries.
Ten Thousand Saints
by Eleanor Henderson
(Ecco, June 7)
Henderson's coming-of-age tale set in New York's East Village in summer 1987 has started to attract a lot of attention -- notably the cover of the New York Times Book Review -- and Ecco is betting big with a 500,000 print run. After his best friend Teddy dies of a drug overdose, Jude is sent to New York to live with his estranged pot-smoking dad, and he stumbles into the world of straight edge -- drug- and sex-free hardcore punkers. Movie rights are still up for grabs, but that probably won't last with the recent buzz -- a gritty, quirky alternative to the rumored Bright Lights, Big City remake.