CHILLER

Cryonics medical technifiction in the Michael Crichton vein but—despite the title—more thriller than horror chiller. A ``chiller'' is the dismissive name for frozen folks who await resurrection when medical science can deal with their once- fatal problems. Biochemist Alex Cowell runs Immortality Incorporated in Orange County, California, and has about 36 clients on ice, including his dog Sparkle. But he and Dr. Susan Hagerty—a researcher who's developed a transglycerol that avoids cell rupture (or freezer burn) during superdeep frigidity—bring Sparkle back from the dead after first having alleviated his spinal tumor with surgery that the dog could not have withstood while alive. Sparkle is the first major success in cryonics. Vitality Incorporated, meanwhile, a rival group that secretly has the bodies of John Wayne, Howard Hughes, Peter Sellers, and others on ice, is a registered archival tissue bank that does cryopreservation research—except that it's really a scam run by two religious phonies out to sucker millionaire celebs. Its chief phony, Dr. Lomax, once revived 12-year-old George, an orphan who drowned in a frozen lake. Then patches of George's brain went blooey, and as George grew older in foster homes, he became a body-builder, a credit-siphoning computer hacker, a religious fanatic, and at last a serial killer. The two phonies finally get terminator George under their control and sic him onto Immortality Incorporated. The reader may well wonder what's happening after George murders Alex, Susan, and their assistant Kathryn. But then the story leaps ahead 38 years, and the trio of dead researchers is brought back to life in the next century! And crazy George, much older, is still around, as are the two phonies, who've managed to join Immortality and Vitality into one group.... A nicely paced debut that holds up throughout, though George's misdeeds as a credit thief are far more compelling than his kill- sprees.

Pub Date: July 12, 1993

ISBN: 0-553-09376-2

Page Count: 496

Publisher: Bantam

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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