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DARWIN’S CHILDREN

Scary and technically plausible though demanding work, even if the good guys’ resurgence depends more on coincidence than...

Not so much a sequel as a continuation of Bear’s near-future biological thriller, Darwin’s Radio (1999). SHEVA, a human endogenous retrovirus—it’s attached to our chromosomes—became active, causing the birth of millions of genetically altered children. But these, according to an increasingly paranoid and repressive Administration, represented a deadly threat to public health and safety. So the mutated children were taken from their parents and placed in soulless concentration camps. There’s a powerful unstated motive too: fear of the children’s remarkable abilities. In the camps, such education that they receive is designed to limit the children’s posthuman development: they communicate using complex verbal tricks, enhanced facial expressions, and psychoactive chemical scents manufactured by their own bodies, and form naturally stable social groups that minimize conflict and maximize cooperation. Former archaeologist Mitch Rafelson and his microbiologist wife Kaye Lang have a SHEVA daughter, Stella Nova, whom they attempt to shield from the government’s EMAC (Emergency Action) forces, but eventually she is captured and sent to a camp. Mitch and Kaye split up, and the future looks increasingly grim for all such children and their grieving parents. However, government virus researcher Christopher Dicken gradually makes significant discoveries, as does Kaye after returning to her former profession. EMAC boss Mark Augustine, once stifled and sidelined, slowly makes a comeback. And Mitch makes an archaeological breakthrough that will permanently change everyone’s perceptions of human evolution.

Scary and technically plausible though demanding work, even if the good guys’ resurgence depends more on coincidence than logic.

Pub Date: April 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-345-44835-9

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Del Rey/Ballantine

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2003

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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