From Savage (Under a Different Sky, 1997, etc.), a slow, clichÇd novel about a smart, sophisticated, ambitious teenager stuck in a small town while her future looms large; the rescue of hawks is the excuse for some overwrought allusions to flight and freedom. Taylor has just finished the ninth grade in Hunter’s Gap. She doesn’t fit in with the stereotypical small-minded, small-town types, and she misses her (also stereotypical) workaholic mother, who spends most of her time in the city or traveling to conferences. Taylor feels that her sensitive-artist (another stereotype) father is the only person who understands her until she connects with the class outcast, Rail, and Rhiannon, the “hawk lady” who runs the local raptor rescue center. Predictably, Taylor starts to see the real people behind the stereotypes, and trades in her future at the upscale Porter Phelps school for an internship at the local paper. Along the way, her father sleeps with Rhiannon, who sees in Taylor her daughter, who died; Taylor first worships Rhiannon (“I created a secret world in my heart—a high, windy hill where I stood side by side with the hawk lady, our long hair blowing until it mingled together”), then despises her; Taylor also has mixed feelings for Rail, the hick with the heart of gold. Hard-edged Rhiannon’s supposed charisma never comes through, and it’s easy to dislike Taylor, who, between bouts of self-pity, snaps at the very decent Rail in every chapter. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-395-91163-X

Page Count: 298

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999


The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes...

In a riveting novel from Myers (At Her Majesty’s Request, 1999, etc.), a teenager who dreams of being a filmmaker writes the story of his trial for felony murder in the form of a movie script, with journal entries after each day’s action.

Steve is accused of being an accomplice in the robbery and murder of a drug store owner. As he goes through his trial, returning each night to a prison where most nights he can hear other inmates being beaten and raped, he reviews the events leading to this point in his life. Although Steve is eventually acquitted, Myers leaves it up to readers to decide for themselves on his protagonist’s guilt or innocence.

The format of this taut and moving drama forcefully regulates the pacing; breathless, edge-of-the-seat courtroom scenes written entirely in dialogue alternate with thoughtful, introspective journal entries that offer a sense of Steve’s terror and confusion, and that deftly demonstrate Myers’s point: the road from innocence to trouble is comprised of small, almost invisible steps, each involving an experience in which a “positive moral decision” was not made. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: May 31, 1999

ISBN: 0-06-028077-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999



Paulsen recalls personal experiences that he incorporated into Hatchet (1987) and its three sequels, from savage attacks by moose and mosquitoes to watching helplessly as a heart-attack victim dies. As usual, his real adventures are every bit as vivid and hair-raising as those in his fiction, and he relates them with relish—discoursing on “The Fine Art of Wilderness Nutrition,” for instance: “Something that you would never consider eating, something completely repulsive and ugly and disgusting, something so gross it would make you vomit just looking at it, becomes absolutely delicious if you’re starving.” Specific examples follow, to prove that he knows whereof he writes. The author adds incidents from his Iditarod races, describes how he made, then learned to hunt with, bow and arrow, then closes with methods of cooking outdoors sans pots or pans. It’s a patchwork, but an entertaining one, and as likely to win him new fans as to answer questions from his old ones. (Autobiography. 10-13)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-385-32650-5

Page Count: 150

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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