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Santa Olivia (Santa Olivia #1)

3.83  ·  Rating Details ·  6,920 Ratings  ·  721 Reviews
Lushly written with rich and vivid characters, SANTA OLIVIA is Jacqueline Carey's take on comic book superheroes and the classic werewolf myth.

Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. A fugitive "Wolf-Man" who had a love affair with a local woman, Loup's
ebook, 352 pages
Published May 29th 2009 by Grand Central Publishing
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Tess Martinez Obviously, I can't tell you what you should do, because I don't know you, but I really wish I could read this book for the first time again! I…moreObviously, I can't tell you what you should do, because I don't know you, but I really wish I could read this book for the first time again! I absolutely loved it!(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Dec 03, 2013 Brownbetty rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The thing about this book is...

Okay, I'm not actually sure what the thing about this book is. There's a couple of points where I felt the author was being weird and wrong-headed, but overall it was so fascinating that I forgave it almost anything.

I found the book fascinating because it was, to me, an indictment of the privilege on which the superhero story is constructed. Loup Garron has special powers; speed, super-strength, yer basic 'I am an advanced biological construct' lego set. But, beca
Aug 06, 2016 Amanda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: meh, blog
The town of Santa Olivia lies between the U.S. and Mexican border, but becomes a sort of present day leper colony when it is walled off from the rest of the world. Apparently the epicenter of a particularly nasty flu virus, the U. S. military builds a base there so the soldiers can keep the townspeople in line. And, as governments are wont to do, it decides, "Hey, while we have this super-secret base cut off from the rest of the world, how's about we take the opportunity for a little genetic exp ...more
Stacia (the 2010 club)
It's raining snakes - hallelujah?
Snakes fell like rain, twisting in midair.

It's probably wrong that this is the second Snakes on a Plane thought I've had in weeks (be glad I didn't post the pic of snakes falling from the plane), but when I think of falling snakes, it's either that or Indiana Jones.

I am review-lazy this week, so I'll give a fast run-down of why I REALLY liked Santa Olivia :

The story was dark. It was strangely apocalyptic and/or screwy militant who-knows-what in form. I don't
Duffy Pratt
This is your basic dystopian boxing fable with a mutant lesbian werewolf superhero/saint as the main character. I know that sounds completely ludicrous. But Carey makes it work rather well, and the book was just a pleasure to read. She writes with such ease and clarity here. And I really liked several of the characters here. I also especially liked how she dealt with a main character who was simply incapable of feeling fear, or any of its related emotions. She treats it basically as another form ...more
Tamora Pierce
Jul 02, 2009 Tamora Pierce rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
This is a science fiction novel from Carey, about the daughter about a genetically engineered soldier who escapes the lab and passes through a border zone created between the U.S. and Mexico (in the wake of a plague that came up from Mexico--I wonder how Carey feels now, since the copyright date is April 2009, the same month reports of H1N1 virus became news, which means that Carey would have handed the manuscript in a year earlier!). Loup is born to her single mother when her father is forced t ...more
I LOVE this author. That said, it isn't my favorite of hers, but it was very enjoyable. I think the world was a bit confusing for me. I felt like the environment that the story was set in was kind of hard to grasp. The characters were interesting, but the world was not enjoyable to be in as others. That said, it sets up a GREAT sequel, so I can't wait to read it, like everything else by Ms. Carey! Huge fan!
Paul Weimer
(NB: I received this as an ARC)
Santa Olivia is the latest book by Jacqueline Carey, who is better known for, and much better known for the Sundering Duology, and much much better known for two Kushiel trilogies. While the former is a take on classic fantasy and the latter are milestone in dark, sensual fantasy, Santa Olivia is a completely different kettle of fish.

The press information provided to me describes Santa Olivia as Jacqueline Carey's take on comic book superheroes and the classic were
Nov 01, 2009 notyourmonkey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, queer, 2009-read, kindle
This is the post-apocalyptic gay superhero with soulbonds underdog sports story OF MY HEART. While quality may vacillate between three and four stars, it's, like, at least a six on my enjoyment scale. You got your apocalypse in my scrappy kids working together novel! You got your gay soul bonds in my underdog boxing tournament story! Ignore the description on the back; it's dumb. This is like Annie crossed with X-Men crossed with Escape from New York crossed with Rocky crossed with the as-yet-un ...more
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
My summary here is a little long, because the premise and set-up is a tad complicated, but I haven't really shared much more than the blurb itself does. I did want to explain the situation though, because I found it confusing at first. If you're leery of even mild spoilers (can't blame you), feel free to skip this review. It's mostly the background - the first, oh, three chapters - that I talk about here.

At some point in the near future, a devastating influenza epidemic sweeps over North America
Buddy read with Anna & Ace.

Loup was born on Santa Olivia's day in a military occupied buffer zone along the Mexican border. Her mother was one of the citizens of Outpost, her father was a super soldier who escaped from the lab where he was made.

As Loup grows she witnesses the injustices perpetrated by the military overlords on the citizens of Outpost, until one day after a friend is raped and the military take no action she decides to take matters into her own hands. Taking on the guise of
Santa Olivia was a reread, but it’s been a while — six (what?!) years, apparently. I never read the sequel, Saints Astray, so between getting that and having bought my sister the books for Christmas, it seemed high time to reread this and get stuck into Saints Astray. It was even more readable than I remembered — I’d have read it in a day if pesky life didn’t keep getting in the way. It takes a whole bunch of ideas — a faintly post-apocalyptic No-Man’s-Land in the Outpost, genetically modified s ...more
Lasairfiona Smith
Are you looking for another Phedra? You aren't going to find her here. You aren't going to find the sex or the epic adventure either. If this is what you are in the mood for, you should probably go elsewhere.

However, if you are up for a quick adventure that is self contained and a bit more real than the fantasy that you are used to from Carey, this is worth a look.

Loup (pronounced Lou actually) has some crazy genetics. She is fast, super strong, and has no fear. Literally. This actually poses a
Nov 09, 2015 M rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read it in one sitting. Finished at 4am.

Enough said.
Rachel Brown
Dec 09, 2014 Rachel Brown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Given that this is about a lesbian Latina boxer who is genetically unable to feel fear, I have no idea why it took me so long to get to it. It is not only exactly up my alley, but is very well-written, gripping, moving, sometimes funny, sometimes sexy, and probably of wide appeal even to people who don’t find that premise instantly charming.

In the not-quite-post-apocalyptic near future, the town of Santa Olivia has been cordoned off as part of a gigantic effort to seal the border between the US
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
An entertaining dystopian/superhero novel that never reaches its full potential. I was intrigued by the description and the first few pages, but in retrospect the story itself is a bit of a letdown.

Santa Olivia is set along the U.S.-Mexico border in what's implied to be the not-so-distant future. The book starts strong, the first 40 pages following a young woman named Carmen living in a militarized outpost, before moving on to the real protagonist, her daughter Loup. Loup has superhero powers th
Jun 07, 2009 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comic-books, sci-fi
Despite the description that surrounds this novel, it isn't a superhero/werewolf novel, so don't think you're going to read about werewolves.

It's better than that. Much better.

While the novel isn't about werewolves, it is about superheros, or at least what makes a heroine. Carey is playing with the superhero genre for much of the book. There are references to X-Men, Wolverine in particular, and Superman. Many of the plot points are similar to those used in comics - the outsider with superpowers,
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads
I loved this book.

I didn't know I loved it until somewhere between 66-75%. Before that, I had liked it. A LOT. But the love kinda sneaked up on me. That's the best kind of love, I think. The kind that lies quietly, waiting for you to come around to its inevitability.

Loup and Piral are like that too. Of all of the many, many things I love about Santa Olivia, I think it's the hopefulness that I love the most. Loup's world is not a happy place, and throughout the story it becomes increasingly les
Jun 01, 2009 Cameron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: urban-fantasy
One thing that amazes me with this novel is Carey's scope as a writer. With the Kushiel sextuplet she was graceful and highly engaging with her intelligent main characters, spinning sentences like colorful and erotic thread; with this book, her main character is more physical and so her writing takes on a greater physicality and brevity. Parsed phrases create intense moments, highlighting the fearless nature of her heroine, the simplicity that she brings to bear in her worldview.

Unlike the shado
rating: 4.5/5

A superhero novel that takes the typical superhero origin story and mixes it up into a surprisingly deep novel. While contemptuously regarding power structures with an analysis of the power of sexuality (and the role of women within power structures), it creates an understated, but relatable, superhero.

The diversity and depth of characters made this a page turner. Additionally, although Loup may be the offspring of a genetically modified rogue soldier, she isn't "the hero" but a ch
The different sections of this book didn't seem to go together to me, genre-wise.

There's the first, shortest, section, really an introduction, which is a gritty, dystopian, very plausible near-future in which the border region between the US and Mexico has been militarized and the citizenship of the denizens revoked. In fact, in legal terms they no longer exist and their presence is forgotten by the general public, although the soldiers use the towns as bases and take advantage of the poverty of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 12, 2012 Liviania rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It took me awhile to pick up the Kushiel books. In fact, all of Phedre's trilogy had been published when I started. I fell in love with Carey's writing, though I know some found it too purple. Then I was impressed by BANEWREAKER and GODSLAYER, where she wrote a different type of fantasy and used a different style. Then came Imriel's trilogy, where she used the same style as with Phedre, but managed to convey a completely different voice. Now she's ventured into the realm of standalone, with SANT ...more
Mar 09, 2012 Tessa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is perhaps the fifth or sixth of Miss Carey's books that I have read, and I find myself saying the exact same thing about it as I said about the others.
Some books are perfectly mediocre and that is their strength, they say early on what they're going to do and do it and it's fun, and that's all that they need to do, but some are astonishingly beautiful or terrible. Then there is the worst offenders books which have such potential or aim so high and are just plain mediocre.
This book promise
May 16, 2009 Janet rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
I'm a big fan of Carey's Kushiel books and Banewreaker duology, so I had a lot of high expectations for this book. It turned out to be engaging; I read it in less than two days, but I ended up feeling a bit let down.

Carey's other stories are epics, with larger-than-life but very human characters playing out their stories on huge canvases of national and religious settings. This is a much smaller story, even though it covers 18 years of time. The heroine, Loup, has extrordinary gifts, but is much
Aug 16, 2010 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't even know about Santa Olivia until I saw someone else mention it a month or so ago. Maybe that's a good thing, because I was in just the right mood to read Santa Olivia right now. It's not high fantasy, like the Kushiel books: it's speculative fiction, with a bit of flu pandemic apocalypse and an oppressive government. And Loup isn't like Phèdre.

Loup is the daughter of a genetically modified man. She's something like a female Wolverine, if you know your superheroes. She's stronger and f
Nov 20, 2010 Sonya rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Santa Olivia is a story that spans 18 years in a small dystopian community recovering from a disease outbreak in Texas. The local population has been cut off from the US and imprisoned in their town by physical walls and the military.

Loup Garron, the child of a genetically engineered soldier, tries to blend in with the rest of society. Although she follows her brother’s advice to be careful and hide her talents, she is torn between acting “normal” and embracing her “gifts”. She allows her “sibli
Sherwood Smith
I loved this book--deft, just the right details, complex characters. Ripping pace. Carey even got me to read about boxing, a subject I avoid usually. This one goes on my reread shelf.
Sep 14, 2012 Kiki marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
That is the coolest fucking cover I have ever seen.
Jun 18, 2009 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't read a lot of science fiction but when I do read it, what I like best is science fiction that explores elements of the world we live in and takes them to their logical conclusions. Santa Olivia, while ostensibly paranormal fiction, shares many qualities with this type of dystopian SF. In it, Jacqueline Carey explores current US immigration policy and, amazingly, anticipates the H1N1 flu epidemic by creating the small town of Santa Olivia, formerly part of Texas but now in the midst of a ...more
Nov 18, 2011 Victoria rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reread in preparation for the sequel coming out next week. In retrospect, the back cover is not as inaccurate as I'd originally thought - though the description above is terrible! - but the book is so unique that I was misled by my own assumptions based on the cover blurb.


How does she do it?!? I've said it before and I'll say it again: Jacqueline Carey could write a shopping list and I'd pay money to read it. She has a vivid imagination, a captivating writing style, and there is
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Jacqueline Carey (born 1964 in Highland Park, Illinois) is an author and novelist, primarily of fantasy fiction.

She attended Lake Forest College, receiving B.A.'s in psychology and English literature. During college, she spent 6 months working in a bookstore as part of a wo
More about Jacqueline Carey...

Other Books in the Series

Santa Olivia (2 books)
  • Saints Astray (Santa Olivia, #2)

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“After you, it's all cheap tequila.” 46 likes
“Hear, hear.' Sister Martha hoisted her water glass. 'Let the rigid stick of self-righteousness be dislodged from her very uptight ass.'
Father Ramon coughed.
'A-fucking-men,' Loup supplied helpfully.”
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