SKIN

Torqued! Twisted, man, as the new Abyss line plunges forward with its plan to advance through the frontiers of psychological horror. Koja fulfills Abyss's hopes with a savage hymn to industrial culture—a first hardcover whose breakthrough originality is unique but will leave many fighting off its overload. Metal sculptor Tess Bajac's days are spent scrabbling through junkyards, scraping bucks together through odd jobs as a welder, and soldering poems in steel. Unlike many in the field, who shape abstracts out of found objects, Tess does her own welding. (Koja at times follows the imitative fallacy and welds scrap sentences into Burroughs-like cutup paragraphs that mimic her heroine's sculpture. Which can be hard on the reader.) Into Tess's life creeps Bibi, a dancer turned artist in body metal, blood, burns, scars, and pain. Tess longs for motion in her sculpture. Bibi brings it, making love-dances to the sharp-edged pieces that leave her ripped and bleeding. Together with some dirty young dudes and studs who are artists in explosives and weird soundtapes and strobe lights, they form a group called the Surgeons and put on Grand Guignol horror shows that make them famous among subcultures. Then Bibi's lover Paul is killed during one show, the Surgeons fold, and Bibi splits from Tess, who desponds. Later, even more beringed through all the lips on her body, Bibi returns and seduces Tess into her first lesbian tie. But Bibi is bent and invents endless injustices on Tess's part so that she can justify more scars, pain, and body metal. A strong stylist, Koja makes white-hot the pains of metal sculpting and draws a big picture of S&M bars and byways before bringing on her big show as Bibi decides to go all the way and, with razor and scalpel, just about get out of her skin—or help a friend out of his. Beyond the styptic pencil and safety blades.

Pub Date: March 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-30899-X

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1993

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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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