1. The Ezekiel Option - by Joel C. Rosenberg
PLOT As Russia, Iran, and others conspire to destroy Israel, presidential adviser Jon Bennett tries to save the world from a nuclear holocaust and his fiancée from torture and death.
GIST Plenty of fiery car wrecks and dead bodies help to make Joel Rosenberg's third thriller another page-turner, but with this book he's moved from a general publisher to Tyndale House and taken a leap that will please some readers and dismay others: The apocalyptic premillenialism that was subtle in the first two books is splashed across page after page, with long sections detailing LaHaye-type interpretations of scriptural prophecy.
2. A Long Way Down - by Nick Hornby
PLOT On New Year's Eve, four Londoners, each planning to commit suicide, find themselves atop the same high-rise building. Unable to commit the act in front of spectators, they come down and pursue an unlikely friendship.
GIST When is suicide the answer? That's the question that underlies this black comedy by Nick Hornby, author of About a Boy and High Fidelity. The book is at times funny, sad, and insightful about the despair of those who can't figure out how to get back into life, but its foul language and cavalier attitude about drugs and sex will be unacceptable to many WORLD readers.
3. Eldest - by Christopher Paolini
PLOT Although Eragon and his dragon Saphira are battle tested, they still have much to learn. Off he goes for training. Meanwhile, Eragon's cousin must help their village escape from Ra'zac. The book culminates in a massive battle that pits the good guys against the evil Galbatorix.
GIST Fantasy fans eagerly awaited this second book in the Inheritance series. Paolini borrows plot ideas liberally from Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Paolini hasn't yet mastered the art of showing, not telling, and his writing is stiff. But he's only a kid-a bestselling kid at that.
4. Kite Runner- by Khaled Hosseini
PLOT A memoir-like novel that follows the lives of two friends from two social and religious groups through their childhood in Kabul in the 1960s and 1970s, and the tumultuous events that follow.
GIST Hosseini's beautifully written and emotionally compelling story evokes the bountiful Afghanistan of childhood memory, the Afghanistan-in-exile created by impoverished refugees in northern California, and the sadistic, brutal Afghanistan of the Taliban. Against that backdrop he masterfully weaves a story about fathers and sons, loyalty and friendship, guilt and atonement, love and disappointment.
In the spotlight
The Kite Runner came out in hardback in 2003 and was greeted with glowing reviews. But it is as a trade paperback that the book has become a major bestseller, recently selling 39,000 copies in one week. It has been on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list for 49 weeks and USA Today's Top 150 since May of last year. That's a remarkable accomplishment for a first-time novelist, especially one who didn't learn English until he moved to America in 1980. The path to publishing success for the Afghan native was straightforward. He began writing in March 2001, finished in June 2002, and had the book published the next year. Khaled Hosseini continues to practice medicine and write in the early morning before going to work. His next novel, also set in Afghanistan but with a female protagonist, is scheduled for publication next year.