Most reviewed: The Other

<p>Critical attention this weekend has been wide-ranging, with nine different books receiving a similar number of reviews. Just out in front is <em>The Other </em>by David Guterson (Bloomsbury, 9780747592433, &pound;18.99). The author of <em>Snow Falling on Cedars </em>has returned with his fourth novel, the tale of two friends, one of whom becomes a hermit in the American wilderness. </p><p>Reviews are sharply divided. Archie Bland writing in the<em> Independent</em> calls <em>The Other</em> a &quot;fine novel&quot; of &quot;gentle, intelligent sadness&quot;, with only the mildest of hesitations: &quot;Guterson is a writer whose unfailingly appropriate sense of rhythm and diction can actually make the reader long for a bit of linguistic violence,&quot; and &quot;we&#39;re left with a kind of a shadow book that remains strange, beautiful, and tantalisingly just out of reach.&quot; </p><p>The <em>Guardian&#39;</em>s Giles Foden finds much to praise in the &quot;powerful evocation of landscape&quot; but mostly in the novel&#39;s thematic reach: &quot;[it is] a highly significant contribution to American literature, touching on . . . Puritan beginnings, westward expansion and journeys of exploration, ecological collapse, transcendentalism, apocalypticism, social decline, mass-media vacuity and the interplay of wealth and bohemia&quot;.</p><p>For Louise Dean in the <em>Sunday Telegraph</em>, the novel is &quot;by turns both profound and vacuous&quot;. She finds that the themes detract from the hermit character: &quot;There&#39;s anti-consumerism and environmental protest lurking here, and where these things are found in a novel, there&#39;s often a wooden hero,&quot; adding &quot;[he] comes across as a statue striking a pose.&quot;</p><p>Melissa McClements, reviewing for the <em>Financial Times</em>, is even more disparaging. She describes the plot as &quot;troubling&quot;, and concludes: &quot;Sadly for Guterson fans, this is not a return to form.&quot;</p>