Wicker Paperback – 17 Aug 2006
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About the Author
Kevin Guilfoile lives in Chicago with his wife and son. Wicker is his first novel.
Top Customer Reviews
This was a fantastic read, and although somewhat in the realm of science fiction, the cloning practices are completely medically plausible today but for international red tape on moral and ethical grounds.
As an avid reader, this book has remained memorable over a month after I completed it. Guilfoile is a talented and innovative writer, deserving of a vast readership.
And to think the first time I picked it up in my local bookstores basement I put it down...
The premise is one I wish I'd thought up myself and the writing style and prose is the kind that draws you in so that you have to turn the pages. (I read it two sittings). The concept is sci-fi but if that puts you off don't worry - it is our modern world the events are set in.
So do yourself a favour and read the few pages. Then get it.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Modern thrillers appear to be getting more and more sophisticated. Following the success of The Da Vinci Code (with its focus on religion, art, history, and puzzle solving), the average readers of bestsellers are no longer satisfied with the basic running-against-time plot. Now a book must exercise their "little grey cells" and purport to educate them in addition to raising their heart rate. (If only they would read something besides other Dan Brown novels.)
Kevin Guilfoile's debut novel, Wicker does just that. In addition to the suspense and tension created by the various scenarios (all interconnected, but often with conflicting motivations), there is a medical and philosophical thread that even the most jaded reader will find fascinating (and here, I guess, is where I'm supposed to say that the story is "ripped from today's headlines!!!").
But the science isn't overwhelming. Just enough information is given to keep things interesting and clear. And that's only the beginning -- the meat of Wicker concerns eighteen years of aftermath. Which brings Guilfoile's skill at characterization to the fore. In following characters over major spans of their lifetimes, the author cannot merely draw ciphers that only exist to further the plot: he must construct whole personalities that develop along with the different stages of life, and he must keep up with their possible choices (and those consequences) along the way.
Fittingly, the most fully developed character is the one for whom Wicker encompasses his life from before its beginning: Justin Finn, Boy Clone. Showing his development (physical, mental, emotional) throughout his childhood could have been no easy task (although making him precocious does take away the need to present truly childlike thoughts), but Guilfoile pulls it off with confidence, making Justin even more fascinating than the "villain" (and I always have a soft spot for those guys).
Watching Justin's thoughts advance so quickly that he even becomes aware of how he should behave at a given age -- and wondering which side the author is going to take on the nature/nurture debate -- was really what kept me enthralled throughout Wicker; I didn't really care all that much about the parents and doctors, though their actions were mostly responsible for the plot advancement. Even Guilfoile doesn't seem to care as much about them as he does the others. For example, the tragedies that befall Moore are not given nearly enough weight for their importance. We're told that he is distraught, but, other than the cloning itself, I never saw any evidence of this from Moore himself. Even when the second death occurs -- which, cumulatively, would have broken any average man -- Moore just goes on like always.
That said, there is a lot to recommend Wicker, not the least of which is his depiction of a video game called Shadow World, that sound utterly addictive. And his clever method of having characters swear without populating the book with gratuitous oaths. However, in trying to find the morally and philosophically "correct" ending, Guilfoile comes up with one that is overcomplicated and less satisfying than the rest of the book deserves. But, just like a terrific meal topped off by a mediocre dessert, it's still an event to remember and discuss long after the experience has ended.