In this first installment of Johnson-Weider’s planned series, superheroes battle villains for sponsors and media attention on an alternate-history Earth where supers are organized by city like professional sports teams.

Before the 2013 super-season begins, a fatal attack by an unknown evil-doer (some suspect a mole) drops the West Pacific Supers’ rank in the West Coast conference. To win the title and protect the citizens of West Pacific, Calif., Seawolf, White Knight, Starfish and their unflappable operations director, Dr. Sterling, need to rebuild the WPS quickly. Using draft picks and old favors, they manage to get a top-tier rookie and an aging ladies man under contract. Seawolf is even able to bully Nova Woman (who’s given up her secret identity and goes by “Camille” now) to move back to the coast. On top of the stress of finding commercial sponsors, doing PR events and surviving Sterling’s infamously depraved training sessions, the new members bring with them plenty of personal baggage—which is to say, they’ll fit right in with the other misfits and mutants. But there’s plenty of crime for everyone to fight this season—a geological expert with military-grade explosives and an offshore lair is out to literally change the face of the world, and a madman calling himself “Mr. Darwin” has decided that it’s time for the WPS to go extinct. As exciting as that sounds, the author (like the “superazzi” in the story) is so focused on the supers’ private lives that the villains’ plots are relegated to mere distractions until the final fourth of the book. That feeling is reinforced by the way the heroes undercut the dramatic impact of their heroics by treating the citizens like nothing more than faceless opportunities to boost their stats. Despite these missteps, the well-imagined world and strong cast of do-gooders save the debut novel and will keep readers interested through the epilogue by offering new takes on surprisingly human personal struggles, like a less cynical Watchmen with more likable characters. Clever, fun and occasionally tense, but in more ways than one the West Pacific Supers are their own worst enemy.


Pub Date: June 29, 2011

ISBN: 978-0983798415

Page Count: 344

Publisher: Blue Moon Aurora, LLC

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2011

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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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