**spoiler alert** When I started reading this book, I thought it had promise. I've read many other Jaid Black books and thought they were good as well**spoiler alert** When I started reading this book, I thought it had promise. I've read many other Jaid Black books and thought they were good as well. And so, I expected the same of this one. I was wrong.
For half of the book, the story was interesting. Alex, or Commander Alexandria Frazer, both scientist and leading officer of an exploratory group on the spaceship Methuselah was coming home from a two year journey exploring the outer reaches of space, looking for viable planets and other space-faring beings. Due to time dilation , though she and her crew would spend 2 years in space, 1500 years were estimated to have passed on Earth. Understandably, she and her crew were both curious about what they would find when they came back.
If there was a ceiling on what they could possibly have imagined for worst case scenarios, actual events on Earth would have broken that ceiling. In 1500 years, the human race had, apparently, grown both stupider and smarter at the same time. The forward jump of technology in all branches of science was phenomenal, but so were all the ways in which human beings could commit atrocities on each other. Wars had erupted. Biological poisons were used, and mutants were produced. Angry, strong, mutants that became humanity's worst enemy. An even bigger war ensued, until finally, nuclear weapons were used and the Earth was decimated.
By this time, Alex and her crew, Vlad, Peacock, and John, weren't looking forward to landing at all. As they were nearing Earth, they got caught up in some kind of time dimensional rift that pushed their spaceship one million years into the future. There, they crash landed into an Earth that might as well have been an alien planet. While trying to get their bearings, they were attacked by xanthor, a dangerous reptilian animal with a hell of a lot of teeth. In their flight from the animal, Alex somehow managed to get swallowed by it. In order to escape, she used her laser pistol and sliced her way out of the animal's belly, right into the path of a group of humans, an Amazonian woman, and her males.
At this point, the story introduces you to the pervading theme which is, males versus females. There are to races in this world, Takuri and Xandi. The Takuri are led by women, the Xandi by men, and both are continuously at war with each other and have been for 20,000 years. Both are ancestrally of human descent, but the Xandi race has evolved so much that they now have two forms. One is their demon form, where they appear reptilian and have bat wings. The other is their human form where they look like tall vampires with golden cat eyes. Enmity prevails between these two races because the Xandi need Takuri women in order to bear offspring, and so, they kidnap them.
The place Alex has in this book is the one as the messiah of the Takuri. She is the one foretold to lead a war against the Xandi and defeat them. Her identity was proved when she put her hands on an ancient DNA analyzer cued to her DNA that had survived as a relic, together with a 2010 car fender, a laser pistol, a futuristic toaster, and a 30 foot statue of Alex. Her polar opposite is Malik, the immortal king of the Xandi, and of course, her romantic love partner. Before their meeting on Earth, wherein Alex gets kidnapped from the stronghold of the Takuri and taken to Malik, there's a lot of foreshadowing going on, courtesy of the dreams Alex has been having even in space. Apparently, her mind resonated with Malik's, putting them both in something the Xandis call, a "dreamstate".
Up to this part in the book, it's all very interesting, and the sex is pretty hot. Jaid Black has talent for writing steamy sex scenes. I was really enjoying reading this until I got to the part where Vlad, one of Alex's crew on the Methuselah, drops this little tidbit. Apparently, they'd gotten their info wrong. They weren't one million AD in the future. They were one million BC into the past.
Oh if you could only imagine the frustration this brought me. Imagine a little roar in your head steadily growing louder and louder. I kept reading, but I also kept on thinking of all the things that made this just impossible to believe. But the book kept pushing it. The book tried hard to make me believe that no, they weren't in the future, they were in the past. From out of nowhere, you've got a T-Rex, veciloraptors, and other dinosaurs coming out of the woodwork to attack the rescue team of Takuri that had been formed to take Alex back from the Xandi. It was really, reeeeaaallly annoying.
If they were really in the past, where did all the Alex-the-messiah relics come from? In order for there to be "relics" they must first come from the past. You can't have relics that came from the future. That's physically impossible. And even if it were, it wasn't explained in any half-reasonable way in this book.
Going through the last few chapters of the book, you'd feel like you were speed reading it. That's because everything is happening too fast. Alex and Malik, though she's human, and he's a Xandi that's always in demon-reptilian-batwing form prior to sex, find a way to fall in love with each other in record time. They fall in love, they realize the problems of their love, Alex feels guilty, she decides to escape. Malik gets angry, throws furniture around, blah blah blah. Just imagine reading all this unsatisfying stuff that has none of the depth or detail of the earlier chapters, while also thinking that THIS. BOOK. IS. ILLOGICAL. I know Jaid Black owns her own publishing house, doesn't she at least have an editor?
So Alex finds her way back to the Takuri, and by this time, as the reader, you're expecting the book to be quite stupid. In record time again, Alex changes the 20,000 year old tradition and culture of the Takuri by freeing males from slavery. If the Takuri, a group of strong-willed Amazonian women, were this easily manipulated by Alex, messiah though she may be, I'm surprised the Takuri haven't been subjugated by the Xandi long ago. Nothing at all is said about HOW she does it, only that it is done. Nothing is said about the biological changes Malik's bite has done on her body. Apparently, he's more a vampire than the rest of the Xandi. In fact, it's just a lot of one liners about what's happening, more a summary of events rather than actual storytelling.
By the end, of course, Malik and Alex make up with each other and have sex. At this point, you reach the part of the story, the part I have been truly waiting for. Because by this time, I can't stand the contradictions in this damn book. So, we go back to Alex's relics, especially her DNA handprint analyzer. It's got a nifty and very convenient video stored in there that shows the first Takuri prophet, the one that started this whole Alex is the messiah business. Finally, we get to it. By this time, I was really hoping for something to salvage the story. Something that might explain why the book seems to be in a no man's land where characters seem to be in both past and future at once.
So, the explanation is, a wormhole. Of course, a wormhole is like the SF writer's version of a magical time machine. But this is Jaid Black, so that can be excused. Anyway, this first prophet, is actually a scientist that has managed to make a time machine through a wormhole in space. And that is how Alex and friends have managed to find themselves one million years in the future/past. The prophet/scientist says past, but I'm still not sold on that.
Here's an excerpt of the epilogue. Truth be told, I don't really care about spoilers anymore. If you've read what I've written, you won't feel like reading this book anyway.
“Greetings to you from one year to the day of Armageddon, Dr. Frazier. I have spent my entire adult life building upon what other scientists have learned and, I believe, created the ability to time travel from a singular wormhole in deep space. If years of scientific questing has aided me and what I have done has worked, then you and the crew of the Methuselah entered that wormhole and have reached Earth’s distant past rather than its nonexistent future.” Her teeth sank into her lower lip. “To answer the question foremost in your mind, neither side won the war.” His sigh was reflective. “But then, is there really any other outcome to be expected?” Malik looked down to Alex and then back to the display. “Since the dawn of recorded history, humanity has waged war on itself in the name of power and greed. In this, the final chapter of the book called New France, both sides lay dead. We defeated the enemy, but we have killed ourselves off in the process. Those few of us that remain are aging at an astronomical rate. Within weeks, all will have perished.” Alex closed her eyes briefly, pained by his words. Malik threaded his fingers through hers and squeezed. She took strength in his presence, just as he took strength in hers. Her eyes flicked back open. “You have the power within you, Alexandria the Great, to carve out a new destiny for humankind. There can be peace or there can be war, but there can never be both. Each side must learn to give, each culture much realize it is superior in no one’s eyes but its own.” Tears threatened to spill as Alex watched the Zutairan man age another twenty years right before her eyes. His voice grew gravellier, his eyes tired and ready to sleep…forever. “I have lived long enough to do what it is I feel the gods put me here to do. I have given humanity another chance in you. A chance to know love instead of hate. A chance to realize peace instead of death. A chance to thrive instead of perish. Lead your people with a wizened hand, Dr. Frazier. This way lays death. It is up to you to carve out a new destiny for the world formerly known as Earth.” The Zutairan managed one, final, weak smile. “Peace and love,” he murmured. “Peace and love.” Do you see all the inconsistencies here? The way this Zutairan (the scientist) speaks, it's as if he has some kind of magical joo-joo that can predict the future. And if so, and he is predicting the future, then Alex and the rest are in the future, not the past. Those dinosaurs shouldn't be in this book. They're just annoying. I don't even know why they're in the damn book. They aren't necessary to the story. What difference does it make if Alex is in the past and not the future. Was the chance to write those dinosaurs into the story really that important? Man, I feel as if Black wanted to write a particular scene into the book, and in order to make it work, she wrote in a whole lot of other bullshit to make it work. But, it's like a square peg in a round hole. IT JUST DOESN'T FIT.
This book is a disappointment. It's not on par with Black's other books, such as her Trek Mi Q'an series. It's even worse because it started out so well. If it had just continued on with the same level of writing, this book would've been pretty satisfying to read.
By Goodreads standards, I'd give it 1 star for, "I don't like it."...more
It was surprisingly good. The premise of landing on a hostile planet and needing to depend on an alien race isn't new, but the writing was fresh, andIt was surprisingly good. The premise of landing on a hostile planet and needing to depend on an alien race isn't new, but the writing was fresh, and I always love the tandem between a strong independent-minded woman, and a dominant, possessive, and devoted man. I like stories were men are straight-forward and know exactly what they want. In this story, the male knows exactly what he wants and takes steps to get it. It also helps that the culture of the race is very nurturing of women, so you know that hurting women is the last thing on their minds.
It's a great book. After this one, I read a couple of Autumn Dawn's other stories, like Charmer, Something Wild, etc. I've noticed that she's not consistent in how good her stories are written, but I persevered and slugged through all the ebooks of hers I could get my hands on. Finding those books of hers that are better than the rest are worth the effort....more