Great characters, a semi-plausible premise and a flair for striking scenes get this trilogy off to a first-rate start.

THE STRAIN

Film director del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth, 2006, etc.) and thriller writer Hogan (The Killing Moon, 2007, etc.) treat a vampire outbreak as a massive public-health crisis, with chilling results.

When a plane arriving from Berlin goes completely black on the runway at JFK, losing all electrical power and contact with the outside world, authorities expect to find a tense hostage situation on board. Instead, they discover that almost everyone on the plane has mysteriously died, presumably during the very brief interval between the time it landed and the moment a SWAT team stormed the cabin. Suspecting a disease of some kind and fearing its spread, authorities call in Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, head of a CDC team set up to deal with just this sort of fast-moving, potentially catastrophic epidemic. What Dr. Goodweather and his team gradually discover, however, is something much stranger and potentially even more dangerous: a species of parasitic worm that gradually turns its host into a bloodthirsty something that very closely resembles a vampire. Soon they are operating well outside the realm of established science, especially after they team up with Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor and former academic who now operates a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem and has dealt with this sort of thing before. Armed with Setrakian’s knowledge and an extensive arsenal of anti-vampire weaponry, the CDC team sets out to control the outbreak by attacking its source. The book boasts a plethora of arresting images and many terrific macabre touches. Del Toro and Hogan also succeed in constructing a driving plot and delivering a gripping conclusion.

Great characters, a semi-plausible premise and a flair for striking scenes get this trilogy off to a first-rate start.

Pub Date: June 2, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-06-155823-8

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2009

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