DESPERATION

An astounding fall season for King unfolds with three new novels: the wind-up of his Signet paperback serial The Green Mile, and same-day dual publication of Desperation from Viking and The Regulators from Dutton (as Richard Bachman—see above). Desperation, while mystifying if read after The Regulators, is fabulous storytelling that avoids the slovenly glee that corrodes the grand fantasy of its mirror novel. The twin rulers of the dual novels are God the Cruel (Desperation), who speaks only to David Carver, a very well-spoken 11-year-old, and the Great God Television (The Regulators), a rotten god made visible through the mind of an autistic six-year-old, Seth Garon. The two books share characters but offer distinctly different spins on their personalities: The heroine of The Regulators is a big threat in Desperation. Also on hand in both are the evil entity Tak and the heroic but burnt-out novelist John Marinville, a recovering alcoholic. While speeding through empty Nevada spaces, Peter and Mary Jackson are stopped and arrested by a gigantic cop from nearby Desperation, a small mining town. At the jailhouse, the nutty robotic giant shoots Peter dead. Then the giant arrests Marinville, who is trying to recover his reputation by crossing the country on his motorcycle and writing a Steinbeckian Travels with Harley. The cop's body, we find, houses Tak, who constantly needs new bodies to live in because his superhuman heart batters them to pieces. He has already murdered the whole town and is now planning to house himself in the still-alive Audrey Wyler, a mining specialist who has been investigating the nearby China Shaft where "the unformed heart" of Tak bubbles evilly. Then into town rides Steve, whose heart is pure, in a Ryder truck . . . Knockout classic horror: King's most carefully crafted, well-groomed pages ever.

Pub Date: Sept. 24, 1996

ISBN: 0-670-86836-1

Page Count: 704

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1996

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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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