Sascha Duncan is a Psy; a member of the ruling race who have banished all emotion from their kind. One problem; Sascha is feeling. Her mother had alwa...moreSascha Duncan is a Psy; a member of the ruling race who have banished all emotion from their kind. One problem; Sascha is feeling. Her mother had always told her she was broken and she’s getting closer to falling apart. When a business deal brings her closer to the alpha of the local leopard changeling pack, everything she understands about her world is about to change.
The central idea of Slave to Sensation is a fantastic one, mashing together science fiction and urban fantasy elements. Why can’t a future world have weres too? The Psy have a hive mind, connected together by a network in their heads with mental barriers. I loved the sequences inside the net and wanted more exploration into this alternative consciousness.
The title is a bit of a clue to the bulk of the story though. Sascha is starting to feel and experience sensation. The Psy don’t touch and the changelings are all about body contact. However in the background is a serial killer story that had so much potential. It picked up near the end but it really was eclipsed by the sexy stuff. Yup, I now prefer serial killers to sex scenes!
Now, I’ve got a quite high tolerance to pointless sex after the Anita Blake series but it’s still not my most favourite thing when it doesn’t sit right in the plot or moves things along. First up are the sex dreams which seem to be a way to cheat at getting your characters together without getting them together. There wasn’t any real sexual tension because of this; it was just like they were together from the start. If there’s one thing I want in my sexy urban fantasy relationships, it’s tension.
The series was recommended to me and I think it’s quite established now so I’ll give it another go. I really want it to expand on the Psy side rather than the changelings as they weren’t my favourite weres.(less)
Allie has been arrested. Again. Her school has politely asked her parents to transfer her to another school. Again. She is being packed off to Cimmeri...moreAllie has been arrested. Again. Her school has politely asked her parents to transfer her to another school. Again. She is being packed off to Cimmeria Academy, a boarding school no one has ever heard of before. Separated from technology, Allie is cut off from her old life and begrudgingly settles into studying. There is something strange about Cimmeria, where a select group of students attend Night School, not that anyone will tell her what it is.
One of the things I really enjoyed about Night School was the fact that Allie is on the outside of the secret stuff. Usually the new girl gets drawn into whatever is going on in books and quickly becomes the centre, but here Allie is as clueless as the rest of us. It veers dangerously close to love triangle territory but a key event soon sorts that and the relationships and friendships develop at a natural pace.
I think I have said before that I love boarding school settings. There’s always a great cast of teachers and rules yet a certain independence allowed the teens due to living away from home. Usually, school is something that is left behind each day but living their forces them to readdress their attitudes of adults. It also means there’s no escaping the bitchy girls or the gossip.
There are so many unanswered questions. And you know what? That’s fine by me, just makes me want to read the rest of the series, and quickly. Although it does mean I have no idea what to categorize it as…aren’t those the best kind of books?(less)
After watching her mother deteriorate and die from Huntington’s disease, Rosie must face up to the fact that she has a 50% chance of inheriting it. Sh...moreAfter watching her mother deteriorate and die from Huntington’s disease, Rosie must face up to the fact that she has a 50% chance of inheriting it. She knows that she can’t bear not knowing but then her neighbour drops a bombshell. Rosie isn’t Trudie’s daughter. Armed with this new knowledge, Rosie knows she can’t have Huntington’s but should she try and find her real mother? Rosie’s search for the truth brings with it some tough choices. Does she continue living a lie or risk ruining the lives of others?
It’s apt that one of the characters ends up a soap star in Someone Else’s Life because that’s exactly what the plotting and pacing felt like. There is so much going on and it moves from one revelation to the next. There are secrets and lies, but all of a sudden they’re out in the open and then there’s something else. And drama at every turn. Which is fine, if you like soaps, but I didn’t think it allowed for any real tension to build up and none of the topics were dealt with in much depth. Yet it was still rather compulsive reading and I made it to the end.
The narrative is shared between Rosie and an anonymous teenage girl who is facing an unplanned pregnancy. Rosie’s story leads you to make assumptions about the second narrative that may not be true. One thing that was realistic, even if it meant for less of an enjoyable reading experience, is the self-centredness and selfishness of the teenage girls. The world revolves around them and they can’t seem to put themselves into the shoes of others. I’m not quite sure this gels with Rosie’s role as a caregiver. Often teenagers in that position grow up very fast.
And as for Rosie. She doesn’t take long to get over her mother’s death. I don’t care if she did have a shock at finding out she wasn’t her biological parent, she would still grieve. But no, she goes off on her own adventure, her only thought for her mother that she’s relieved she won’t face the same fate.
There was a whole other story to be told; one where Rosie gives up her education in order to care for her dying mother. I thought there would be more flashbacks but after the background is set, it’s only mentioned in passing. Whilst the book gave a basic impression of Huntington’s disease, it did seem to make it look like a common condition. Both main characters go to a clinic that appears to specialise in it and with waiting rooms full of patients displaying symptoms. I’m pretty sure most people would go to their regular doctor and are unlikely to come into contact with other sufferers without seeking them out through help groups. (less)
Sally Mitchell is the first person to be saved by their SymboGen implant; a genetically modified tapeworm that has changed medical treatment worldwide...moreSally Mitchell is the first person to be saved by their SymboGen implant; a genetically modified tapeworm that has changed medical treatment worldwide. After a near-fatal car crash, she was pronounced brain dead only to reawaken moments before the plug was pulled. Six years later, Sal prefers not to be called Sally; she isn’t that girl any more. In fact she has no memory of the life she lived before.
Reading Parasite made me aware that I know a fair amount about parasites. What may seem like a far-fetched cautionary tale is rooted in science fact. Tapeworms have been known to have beneficial qualities as well as a whole bunch of unsavoury side effects. They can travel beyond the intestines in your body. There are plenty of parasites that actually exist that control their hosts in the most extraordinary ways; I have watched many a natural history documentary that screamed science fiction except that they are real.
And we are facing a world where our immune systems are back firing and excessive use of antibiotics are creating resistant strains. It’s not so hard to see science turning to living, symbiotic cures for all our ailments. Even Sal’s recovery put me in mind of one of the miracle survivors of rabies I read about in Rabid; having to learn to walk and talk from scratch as an adult is an arduous, but thankfully rare, task. It does make Sal an amazingly endearing characters and that is where the strength of this book lies beyond the science; in the amazing characterisation.
It’s refreshing to have a love interest that is already established. It makes it not about the romance but Nathan is a wonderful supporting presence and possibly the perfect boyfriend. His in depth knowledge of parasites is also handy in the circumstances. Sal is at times naïve and sometimes slow on the uptake but considering she is only mentally 6 years old, she’s doing pretty well and is full of character and self-awareness. She is kind to animals and she likes learning new slang but she’s also happy to admit when she doesn’t understand something. She also call in the experts instead of running straight into danger by herself. Smart girl.
There is also one of the best canine characters I’ve read. You can tell an animal loving author through the qualities of the animals in the pages and Beverly is wonderfully expressive. I think you’d be able to tell she was a Labrador even without being told; the full body tail wag is a dead giveaway. I worried about this dog more than some of the humans! Tansy was also a fantastic character who made me laugh; to say more about her would involve spoilers I’m afraid.
It’s a story with a lot of leads that will help you work out what is going on well before the characters. Well, before Sal, because I think there are many that know a lot more than they are letting on. Perhaps because the science and theory seemed right to me, and strangely familiar, I wasn’t distracted by it in the early stages and I instinctively guessed the big secret right away. However I loved the characters so much it didn’t matter that I felt the conclusion was inevitable but some may find it predictable. Then there’s always the chance that I could be wrong, especially with one or two things that, at the time, seemed to throw me off the scent.
There were parts of Parasite that reminded me of Feed and others of her writing under her own name, Seanan McGuire. I think she’s managed to meld the best of both worlds into this and I look forward to more. The ending is definitely an opening for a series.
Taylor is just trying to get through high school like any other girl her age. But Bethany inherited a curse from her now deceased mother. The dead wil...moreTaylor is just trying to get through high school like any other girl her age. But Bethany inherited a curse from her now deceased mother. The dead will hunt her out and mark her. If she can’t pass the mark on, she will be sucked into…well she doesn’t know what but it’s nowhere she wants to go.
First off, The Weight of Souls is a book I enjoyed a lot; in fact it’s one of my favourite offerings from Strange Chemistry so far. However I have been struggling putting together my thoughts into a review. The central relationship is, shall I say, unorthodox. I feel going into details will be a bit spoilery but it’s something a bit different that tiptoes along a thin line of things that might not be OK. But it is all done in such a way that you accept it. Can I be any vaguer?
Central to the story is the topic of peer pressure. Even without Taylor’s supernatural abilities, there’s a strong plot revolving around the stupid, and often dangerous, things teens will do to fit in. The school setting is so believable, right down to the level of meanness from the kids. There’s nothing dramatic, but the actions and words build up into what amounts to bullying in the long term. It shows how easily they can fall from grace, from being normal and accepted, to being at the bottom of the social pecking order.
Taylor’s curse has been passed down over generations from a tomb raiding ancestor. The modern day story is interspersed with passages from a journal that used to belong to her mother. Those of you familiar with the history of Egyptian archaeology will know of the tales of the cursed, and I liked the idea that they are still around, trying to live normal lives.(less)