A creative, sharply drawn thriller anchored by sturdy prose and a memorable hero.

THE EXPERIMENT OF DREAMS

New Jersey bartender and author Zenner combines corporate deceit, futuristic technology, and sleep science into a rousing debut.

Heartbroken from the recent loss of his beloved wife, Emily, Baltimore bartender Ben Walker jumps at any chance to participate in the kinds of sleep studies that have helped keep him financially afloat for years. Bored with his life, he frequently finds himself “drinking to oblivion”—a routine interrupted by a tip from a dream scientist about a lucrative, revolutionary project for which he believes Ben, who in past tests has exhibited extraordinary subconscious “control and vividness,” would be perfect. This new lucid-dream sleep study is based in the Hamptons and has been commissioned by eccentric multimillionaire Dr. Timothy Kalispell. The study utilizes a machine nicknamed “Lucy” (for Lucid Transmitter), which reads and records images created during the sleep cycle. Initially, Ben exhibits promising results while doctors view his subconscious “sleep art” imagery as he flies through his mind’s dreamscapes. The project is soon taken on the road to Paris and Rome to incorporate dreams dreamt after seeing art masterpieces, yet even after some overdue spicy romance with beautiful stranger Sophia, things begin to spiral downward. Ben becomes plagued with migraine headaches as Dr. Kalispell unveils his newest technology, the “Vitruvian Machine,” capable of bringing dreamed images to life. Of course, big-business ethics and profit lie behind the grand design, and once the team enlists Ben as a full-time employee, his sketchy dreams of a place called Drapery Falls put him in grave danger. When the lines between what is dreamed and what is real begin to blur, the medical team behind the project shows its contemptible colors. Zenner crafts a well-paced thriller powered by a lively, gutsy protagonist and durable supporting characters nefarious and romantic. Kalispell is a formidable villain, yet Zenner is cleverly careful not to reveal his true nature until the plot is well underway. Fans of reality-bending sci-fi medical thrillers will find much to savor in this futuristic thrill ride with a bloody denouement.

A creative, sharply drawn thriller anchored by sturdy prose and a memorable hero.

Pub Date: Dec. 11, 2014

ISBN: 978-0692355138

Page Count: 274

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2015

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more