SHADOW HUNTER

Baker (the story collection What A Piece of Work, 1992, etc.) here weighs in with a hefty but hollow saga of a world in crisis- -with Homo sapiens opposed by virtually every living organism on the planet in a desperate bid for survival. Triggering the final showdown in the year 2131 is the disappearance of teenager Ronnie Draper, lost to civilization while on a hunting expedition meant to render him fit to be a leader like his father. Captured by a scouting party of Ginks, supposedly degenerate humans who occupy wastelands produced by a previous nuclear war—and who are the ultimate game for hunters in Ronnie's society—he quickly learns that they have unimagined powers and organizational skills. Burrow dwellers and cannibals, they draw strength from a union with their shadow selves that enables them to communicate with other creatures. Ronnie becomes one of them after tasting human flesh, while his case becomes a political football back home, prompting top-secret probes to locate and terminate him, plus an all-out assault on the Ginks. High-tech human warfare meets its match in a well-orchestrated resistance by Nature, as Ronnie finds himself heir apparent to the Ginks's wizened spiritual leader and meets his mate—an all-powerful renegade female captured as a child by Ronnie's own people and sent out now with agents to find him. He comes home alive with her, thereby creating the possibility of racial harmony in a newly configured political climate. Sweeping and imaginative, although this promises more than it delivers: a futuristic vision so vast that characters seem lost, with more shadow than substance.

Pub Date: July 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-671-79046-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Pocket

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 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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