A solid, well-paced sci-fi adventure.

Robinson Crusoe 2245

From the The Rendering Chronicles series , Vol. 2

Robinson Crusoe returns from a rigidly hierarchical far-future U.K. to a nightmarish North America in search of his love, Friday, in the second book of Robinson’s (Robinson Crusoe 2244, 2014) series updating the Daniel Defoe classic.

Crusoe must seek out Friday and try to rescue her from the Bone Flayers and their terrible leader, Arga’Zul, whose very reputation terrifies the people he meets and forces him to undertake shifting, uncertain alliances. Crusoe tracks her across a continent beset by weird cultures, old and new, and a full array of mutants, war chieftains, and natives both furtive and belligerent. Despite an ever increasing degree of intrigue and back-stabbing, Crusoe makes his way through a dangerous landscape and grows as a person—ever more confident and strong—throwing himself and his future into the search for his one true soul mate. But Arga’Zul is uber-formidable, and Crusoe must do more than merely survive to save the day. As with the previous installment, characters are entertaining but not complex, while their dialogue works for an adventure story (clichéd/classic lines like “Cru-soe is more man than you’ll ever be” appear throughout.) The light language and snappy pace make this a fun, undemanding read. Robinson works to make the setting both exotic and familiar—the surprises aren’t shocking, but they are engaging and occasionally thrilling. It’s admittedly a little odd to see Defoe’s characters transmogrified as they are, particularly the helpful but enigmatic man Friday turned into a somewhat standard young female love interest. And speaking of transformation, the world of the future often seems to play favorites in terms of what survives, from amusement parks to cultures. The story ends, as is the norm, with a cliffhanger, setting the stage for further installments.

A solid, well-paced sci-fi adventure.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-5175-4757-8

Page Count: 288

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 13, 2015

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


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.


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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