By: Steven L. Layne
Publisher: Pelican Publishing Company
Publication Date: January, 2011
Reviewed By: Amy Lignor
Review Date: January 19, 2011
Becoming a huge fan of Steven L. Layne’s books isn’t difficult. Why? In a nutshell, this man is a fantastic writer. Not often does an author come along who can write YA novels that appeal to absolutely every age group – from teens to senior citizens. His powerful, thrilling series that began with This Side of Paradise continues in Paradise Lost with an unforgettable cast of characters, humor, conspiracies, romance…just about everything a book lover can possibly ask for from a novel.
To catch readers up, Troy and Jack Barrett are brothers and couldn’t be more different. Troy is the younger sibling and is basically beautiful – not to mention the owner of some serious abs. Troy has always been the one who garnered attention and is extremely good at doing so. Jack is the quieter, calmer one who, in the first novel, proved that he was practically Superman. This older sibling works hard, loves his girlfriend, and was responsible for defeating an extremely dangerous man in order to save his family from complete annihilation.
The boys’ summer has gone extremely well. The McAllister sisters – Julie and Jori – moved closer to the Barrett’s after everything happened back in Paradise, and became Jack and Troy’s girlfriends. Julie dates Troy and makes sure that everyone on the school grounds knows that SHE is the one and only owner of the hot guy’s heart (especially a girl named Bunny who wants Troy to be HER arm candy). In addition, Julie is a black belt in karate and will be more than happy to prove her superiority over all of them. Jori is a bit quieter, and is absolutely the perfect Lois Lane for Jack.
Even though their summer was good and the beginning of their senior year is calm, Jack is the one who can’t forget the pain his family went through back in Paradise; the hell on earth that robbed the young men of their mother, and turned their father into some kind of deranged madman. Jack’s heart still races when he thinks of all they went through and the frightening things he had to do in order to get his kidnapped brother back alive. Now they live with their Gram, have terrific girlfriends, and life seems to be as perfect as possible, but Jack just can’t seem to let go of the eerie feeling that the worst is yet to come.
On the first day of school Troy once again draws all the attention, as the stunner walks into the hallway with Julie on his arm. And then…the whole world turns upside down when the biggest geek in school, Chase Maxwell, enters through the double doors looking like he just traveled down from Mt. Olympus to show his godlike beauty to the masses. No one can believe it’s him – the quiet, shy, skinny nerd who no one ever knew existed has transformed into the handsomest being on the planet. Not only is Jack amazed and Troy slightly put out that he’s no longer the center of attention, but Julie has a look of total disappointment on her face, like she knows a secret that she just can’t reveal.
After that day, one phone call changes the entire course of Jack and Troy’s life; when Jack hears his brother utter the words, I saw him, the thrill ride begins. Soon Jack receives another frightening phone call, this one, from Jori – someone’s stalking her and she recognizes him as the man they call Mr. Eden – the evil being that Jack swears he put to death back in Paradise.
When Jack’s girlfriend and brother begin to act strangely and “turn” against him he begins to believe that he’s the one who is slowly going crazy. But with the help of his Gram, his Favorite Aunt Millie, a dog named Mr. Whizzer, a Captain America costume with a one-of-a-kind shield, and a cast of senior citizen characters that will literally make you laugh out loud – Jack will once again be called upon to face Mr. Eden down and save what’s left of his beloved family.
As the demons from Paradise begin to haunt the Barrett boys, this fantastic author leads us on an adventure that involves a secretary named Constance, who does everything that her evil boss tells her to do in order to save her own life; a distressed woman locked inside a place called The Chambers, who’s told how to dress and what to say in order to appease her keeper’s appetite; a key card that opens private doors, behind which are things that will have the reader riveted to the page; and, a sinister project taking place in compounds across the globe that will stun readers the minute it's revealed.
The twists, the turns…the magic that Mr. Layne weaves is beyond words. There isn’t enough space to write a review that adequately praises this one-of-a-kind series. Gram, with her “magic” makeup bag that holds every device that the Home Shopping Network can offer, and a way of driving her little sports car that would have even professional NASCAR racers holding on for dear life, actually steals this story out from under everyone else. Readers will find themselves hoping that when they’re “ready for the home” they will possess at least half the power, courage, and stamina that this woman has every minute of her life.
Quill Says: Excellent, fantastic, superb, brilliant…are words that aren’t even in the same category as this unbelievable series. If Hollywood movers-and-shakers have any brains at all, Steven Layne’s name will appear on the big screen as the world of Paradise shatters box office records!