Thursday, August 6, 2009

Reviews by Harriet

Jeremy Robinson
St. Martin’s, May 26 2009, $24.95
ISBN: 9780312540289

In Peru the mythological Hydra of Hercules' tasks fame is found in Peru alive though in some form of sleep. Manifold Genetic CEO Richard Ridley wants to awaken the deadly beast as he has a plan to use the creature’s DNA to make humans immortal.

His firm steals the find and kidnaps the archaeologist associated with the dig Dr. George Pierce. He has the Hydra and the archeologist taken to a lab he set up on Tristan da Cunha, an island in the South Atlantic. The American government is concerned so it assigns Deep Blue to send in the elite of the Delta Force, the Chess Team unit headed Jack “King” Sigler and the rest of his “pieces” to invade and capture the Hydra and save the archeologist. They soon find themselves battling reengineered reptile like crawlers, and two and four legged beasts that regenerate body parts.

Combining mythology with Jurassic Park, PULSE is an over the top action-packed thriller that will have readers hooked from start to finish as one escapade leads to another and another, etc as the story line never takes a breather. The Chess Team unit knows anyone of them can be turned into an expendable pawn as the mission comes before their individual lives. Readers will enjoy the adventures of the King and his “pieces” as they try to prevent a potential pandemic catastrophe. Harriet Klausner

HotHouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire
Margot Berwin
Knopf, Jun 16 2009, $24.00
ISBN: 9780307377845

Thirty two years old New York career woman Lila Nova used to enjoy her advertising job, but lately the divorcee is finding it tedious. However, she perks up when she meets David Exley selling tropical plants at the local farmer’s market. She already enjoyed plants, but until now never bought any; she purchases one of his offerings.

She notices at a Laundromat a rare fern in the window. The owner Armand makes friends with Lila and gives her a trimming from the fern. He promises her if the fern grows, he will show her his special nine plants. David sees the fern in her apartment and Lila tells him about Armand. Soon afterward, Armand’s plants are stolen and David has vanished. Using guilt and remorse as motivators Armand persuades Lila to accompany him to the Yucatan to obtain new magical plants. There she meets Diego.

This is an intriguing thriller that takes an unexpected magical spin from a New York adventure into a Mexican semi-fantasy tale. The story line is fun in spite of Lila being too loose as she leaps on one man after another and the plot never deciding which genre is on top. Still HOTHOUSE FLOWER AND THE 9 PLANTS OF DESIRE is an engaging odd thriller with one wild twist that takes a bit of adjusting, but worth the effort for those who relish something radically different with their New Yorkers.
Harriet Klausner

DFF: Dead Friends Forever
J. R. Turner
Echelon, Mar 2009, $13.99
ISBN: 9781590806258

In Wisconsin, Marsden Middle School skateboard fanatic Kaylee Hensler wants to skate in the nearby park, but several bullies led by Jimmy the Giant refuse to allow anyone on their turf. She challenges several of the boys to a skate off, but instead Jimmy dares her to enter haunted Larson House and take something form the top floor; though she knows this is insane she accepts.

Her best friend wheelchair bound Davey tells her this is insane and Kaylee agrees. Still she enters the house, goes up to the third floor, finds a mirror, and thinks all is well until a young teenage ghost scares her. She flees, but begins seeing the ghost elsewhere. Davey learns the ghost is probably Isabelle Larson killed in 1897 by Clarence Stillwell. As she tries to help the spirit an evil paranormal essence wants to stop her and her parents, her swimming team coach and her dwindling friends believe Kaylee has lost her mind while Isabelle wants to be her BFF; only neighbor Madame Maggie and Davey understand that there is a paranormal presence.

This is a terrific young adult horror thriller starring an intrepid heroine and a strong support cast including her DFF. The story line is fast-paced with a great finish as Kaylee knows if she survives she still has to explain to rational skeptics. The key characters are fully developed so readers understand them and their motivations. Though her parents are purposely exaggerated so that they come across as how their daughter perceives them, this makes them act stilted. Still fans will enjoy Kaylee’s dilemma. Harriet Klausner

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