LUCAS: A STORY OF LOVE AND HATE
Despite the title, Kevin Brooks' novel is the story of Caitlin, who lives on a small island with her father and brother. Lucas is a loner who is so intriguing he seems magical at times. Though Brooks' writing is at times wonderful, it's too long-winded, and he tends to hammer home points he's already made abundantly clear. He also takes too many steps back from the action to explain the surroundings or a thought Cait might be having, and the move sucks us right out of the moment.
Brooks details Cait's best (girl) friend, Bill, and her turn to the dark side with boozing and promiscuity, but he never shows us what their relationship was like before. Furthermore, Bill is almost entirely dropped from the book once Lucas enters the picture, returning only briefly toward the end.
Despite the dragging pace, this is a novel worth reading. While Cait is intrigued by and weirdly drawn to Lucas, the rest of the natives aren't as excited by his presence. He's labeled a "gypsy," a dirty European word for someone who has no home and typically steals the floor out from under you. The nasty gang in town doesn't just try to make life hell for Lucasthey're after Cait as well.
There's no denying Brooks' talent as a writer and storyteller, and LUCAS is a book any serious young reader will enjoyif she has the patience to get through the unnecessary paragraphs. (May, 423 pp., $16.95)