Cover image for A density of souls
A density of souls
Rice, Christopher, 1978-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion, [2000]

Physical Description:
274 pages ; 25 cm
Format :


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Dark, compelling, and touching a deep contemporary nerve, A Density of Souls is a richly plotted novel about four high school friends in present day New Orleans tom apart by envy, passion, and a secret murder.Meredith, Brandon, Greg, and Stephen are New Orleans friends whose allegiances diverge sharply upon entrance into high school. Brandon and Greg gain popularity as football jocks and Meredith joins the bulimic in-crowd, while Stephen becomes the outcast of the once close group, and is targeted as gay by a school that viciously mocks him. Then two violent deaths disrupt their lives -- an accident and suicide.Five years later the friends are drawn back together by a sinister and violent turn of events. And it turns out that the suicide is actually a murder. As the true story emerges other secrets begin to unravel and the cruelties of high school life take on a new significance.A Density of Souls is a remarkable first novel. Powerful, with an utterly compelling narrative, it looks hard into the darker side of high school life and the tortured psyche of young teenagers. A stunning debut.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Anne Rice's son's first novel is a gothic, filled with looming buildings, fiercely guarded secrets, and tormented characters. It opens in a graveyard with four friends playing hide-and-seek. When these four friends (Meredith, Stephen, Brandon, and Greg) enter high school, their relationships change drastically. Now football players, Brandon and Greg ostracize and ridicule Stephen for being gay. Meredith allies herself with the popular crowd and begins dating Greg. Their world is jarred again when Greg's younger brother Alex is killed, and Greg commits suicide. From this point, the story jumps ahead five years, as Jordan, Brandon's older brother, returns home and tries to find out what happened to Brandon, who was sent away from home shortly after Greg's suicide. In his quest to find out what happened to his brother, Jordan discovers more about this huge cast of characters than he bargained for. From this point, the narrative really takes off as the characters are forced to deal with each other and with their own inner demons. Although the gothic gloom is a little heavy for the high-school scenes, the torments Stephen is forced to endure at the hands of his former friends are painfully realistic. That the author's parents are both writers (father Stan is a poet) will generate interest in this novel, but its originality and merits stand on their own. --Kristine Huntley

Publisher's Weekly Review

Chronicling the lives of four tormented youths, 21-year-old author Rice's earnestly overwritten debut novel flails wildly and suffers from an identity crisis as awkward and vivid as that of his soul-seared characters. Yet the book offers an intriguing, complex story, a hard-nosed, lyrical, teenage take on Peyton Place set in contemporary New Orleans. The tangle of a plot grows weedlike when former childhood friends enter high school and find their loyalties have dramatically shifted. Popular, budding bulimic Meredith Ducote is a closet alcoholic whose diaries brim with morose aphorisms on her wretched life; Greg Darby and Brandon Charbonnet are boisterously homophobic high school jocks; and Stephen Conlin, whose father committed suicide, is the sensitive homosexual boy who quickly becomes the victim of cruelty and derision from the school's popular crowd, led by Greg and Brandon. But the two bullies are covering up a painful childhood secret in their persecution of Stephen, a secret Meredith knows. Before the novel reveals this secret during the overwrought climax set during a devastating hurricane, one character dies, another has an emotional breakdown, a parent is institutionalized, a gay bar is bombed by a militant hate group, a concealed paternity is discovered and several families are broken up. Rice is sensitive to the emotional undercurrents that compel teenagers to both mask and wallow in their intense feeling, but the atmosphere of juvenile angst that pervades the novel is as gluey and suffocating as a hot summer on the bayou. 20-city author tour. (Aug.) FYI: The author is the son of novelist Anne Rice and poet Stan Rice, which no doubt is why the name "Rice" dominates the book's jacket. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved