5 books not to miss: Matt Bell’s ‘Appleseed,’ new Grady Hendrix horror novel

In search of something good to read? USA TODAY’s Barbara VanDenburgh scopes out the shelves for this week’s hottest new book releases. All books are on sale on Tuesday.

1. Appleseed, by Matt Bell (Custom House, fiction)

What it’s about: This ambitious speculative epic and striking take on climate change follows three separate narratives in three different times: 18th-century Ohio; the near climate-ravaged future; and a thousand years from now, in a North America covered by a sheet of ice with one lonely inhabitant seeking out the last of civilization.

The buzz: This is an excellent addition to the climate apocalypse subgenre, and the way it grapples with humanity’s dramatic influence on the planet feels fresh and bracing, says Publishers Weekly.

2. “The Final Girl Support Group,” by Grady Hendrix (Berkley, fiction)

What it’s about: The horror master behind The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires puts his unique spin on slasher movie tropes, imagining a group of real-life final girls who survived their attackers meeting in a therapeutic support group to process their traumas.

The buzz: Horror fans will be wowed, says a starred review from Publishers Weekly.

3. The Letters of Shirley Jackson, by Shirley Jackson; edited by Laurence Jackson Hyman (Random House, nonfiction)

What it’s about: A collection of never-before-published letters from the author of The Haunting of Hill House and The Lottery written over the course of nearly three decades. A can’t-miss literary artifact from one of America’s most important authors.

The buzz: A vivid, engaging, and engrossing collection from one of American literature’s great letter writers, says a starred review from Kirkus Reviews.

4. China Room, by Sunjeev Sahota (Viking, fiction)

What it’s about: Two stories intertwine, one set in 1929 Punjab, India, in which a teenager named Mehar is forced into a horrifying arranged marriage, and the other in 1999, in which Mehar’s great-grandson returns to the family farmstead to kick a heroin addiction.

The buzz: The strongest notes of romance and tragedy are there, says a ★★★½ (out of four) review for USA TODAY.

5. What Is a Dog? by Chloe Shaw (Flatiron, nonfiction)

What it’s about: Grieving the loss of a beloved dog, Shaw began meditating on the dogs she’s loved and lost, and what’s she learned from them about being human.

The buzz: In a starred review, Kirkus Reviews calls it a poignant and gracefully written memoir and a dog lover’s warmhearted delight.

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