A somewhat standard, if rousing, supernatural tale combined with a gleefully eccentric teenage romance.

Opaque

From the Scion Saga series , Vol. 1

In Leigh-Reign’s debut sci-fi thriller, a teenage misanthrope questions his disturbing proclivities and even his origin after he becomes inexplicably captivated by a new girl at school.

Californian Adam Caspian definitely isn’t a typical 16-year-old. He spends his days sexually desiring his mother, JoAnn, and hating people in general, often referring to them as “animals.” He’s able to subdue these tendencies enough to function socially—although he might have had something to do with the disappearance of a local grocery clerk. However, he’s thoroughly unprepared for Carly Wit, a new student at his high school who doesn’t repulse him; in fact, he can’t stop thinking about her. Carly is definitely peculiar; for example, the dark rings around the irises of her eyes sometimes turn crimson, and at one point, a bump on her forehead, due to an errant football, mysteriously disappears the next day. It turns out that there’s plenty that Adam doesn’t know about Carly—or about himself. He decides to look into his own background after he also rapidly recovers from a serious accident. He soon discovers that he may actually be Russian, like Carly, and that they’re both descended from lineages with a rare, powerful genetic mutation. They also have other relatives with supernatural abilities, collectively called Iksha, who once held their ancestors captive. As Adam slowly learns about his own capabilities, he exposes secrets involving his parents and others. But is there enough light in Carly to save him, or will his darkness engulf them both? Despite the fact that the novel has teenage protagonists, it’s certainly not aimed at readers of that age. Adam, for example, revels in, rather than represses, his Oedipus complex, even believing that he and JoAnn furtively share a mutual attraction. He’s an indelible character, though—an unhinged young man who, by the time he’s partnered with Carly, becomes a convincing romantic lead. This transformation is surprising, but it works because Leigh-Reign delves into his dense back story, which largely explains his darker impulses. Adam is also shown to genuinely care for Carly, who’s a strong character on her own. The book’s second half more closely resembles a YA tale, as it concentrates on the suspense of a lurking enemy and paranormal confrontations.

A somewhat standard, if rousing, supernatural tale combined with a gleefully eccentric teenage romance.

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9979239-8-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Nnylluc Book Group

Review Posted Online: Sept. 2, 2016

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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

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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

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