Stunningly beautiful in almost every way, but about 20% longer than it needed to be, mostly at the beginning and toward the end. Still VERY highly rec...moreStunningly beautiful in almost every way, but about 20% longer than it needed to be, mostly at the beginning and toward the end. Still VERY highly recommended, and I'm anxious to get my hands on the rest of the series. Given my general aversion to non-genre contemporary, that's really saying a lot about the strength of Marie's prose and characters!(less)
There are not words for how much I love this book. Full disclosure: I was a beta, and it's also set in my sandbox (this story is written in the same w...moreThere are not words for how much I love this book. Full disclosure: I was a beta, and it's also set in my sandbox (this story is written in the same world as Anchored and Where He Belongs). That said, Aleks wrote such a beautiful novel I'm downright jealous of how well he handled my sandbox; he built a much prettier castle than I ever did ;-p
This is classic Voinov at his finest: dark, gritty, morally ambiguous, dangerous, violent, and sexy as hell. All that plus a genuine romance! If you are a fan of any of these things, I cannot recommend this book strongly enough. Also, it's sooooooooooooooper cheap on pre-sale at SMP, so go--pick it up, and get to read it two days before everyone else. (Well, almost everyone else ;-p) And when you're done, you'll want to read it again, and again, and again. Pure love.(less)
It's pretty well written, though the prose is a bit on the pedestrian side. The cruelty got repetitive even for me--and that's saying a lot ;...more3.5 stars
It's pretty well written, though the prose is a bit on the pedestrian side. The cruelty got repetitive even for me--and that's saying a lot ;-p The villains kind of spent the whole story twirling their mustaches. The ending was so abrupt I was trying to flip the page on my Kindle and couldn't figure out why it wasn't working.
I realize those are all negative things, but I actually did rather enjoy this story. Plus, it's free, which is great. God knows it pushed all my kinkarific buttons and pushed them hard :D And once the Neko was free, the story got really compelling really fast. His traveling companion was by far the most fleshed-out and interesting character in the whole book. I'd love to read more about them as a couple.(less)
Full disclosure: I did a beta read on this one. I loved it then and I love it now. The whole concept of the Scorpions is creative and alluring. The ma...moreFull disclosure: I did a beta read on this one. I loved it then and I love it now. The whole concept of the Scorpions is creative and alluring. The main characters--and there are many, because really, this is an ensemble cast orbiting around the bright star that is Kendras--are all vivid, unique individuals, and Aleks creates the sense that he knows the history and mythology for each of them down to how they lost their first baby tooth (without inundating us with details; it's all spare subtle brush strokes, well placed). Kendras is a wonderfully sympathetic character, tough as nails, mercilessly pragmatic, and in so far over his head at some points you can't help but want to gather all your friends around to cheer him on.
If you love fantasy, history, or even a good military novel--or, of course, Aleks himself :D--then you'll want to move this one to the top of your TBR pile. (less)
I think I spent this entire book rolling my eyes. The writing was solid on the sentence level but a train wreck everywhere else. One protagonist was T...moreI think I spent this entire book rolling my eyes. The writing was solid on the sentence level but a train wreck everywhere else. One protagonist was TSTL (Gabriel), and the only reason he did live was because the other protagonist, Ethan--the one with the gun who Gabriel insisted on alternately antagonizing and fantasizing over despite the fact that Ethan broke into his house, cuffed him, called him a fag, threatened to kill him repeatedly, even pistol whipped and beat him--had roller-coaster sized mood swings that came out of nowhere and lacked any clear motivation. The whole thing read like a bad porn fantasy--you know, the kind where you answer the doorbell to discover that the pizza guy isn't wearing any pants, except this time with capture and abuse. Now, I'm as prone to fantasize over capture and abuse as the next gal (probably much more so, tbh), but I need organics; I want the characters to act like sane people with motivations that make sense, rather than do what the author tells them to because the author requires a certain behavior to drive the story.
Even worse than all of that, at the end (view spoiler)[ZOMG IT WAS ALL JUST A DREAM! (hide spoiler)], of course, and we should have seen that coming because it was the only way that the prior 9/10ths of the novel made even the remotest smidge of sense.
I got this with a 50% off coupon at Fictionwise, so for $2 I don't particularly consider it time or money wasted (see above re: my love of capture fantasies), but it really was just not at all well done on a structural, plot, or character level and I don't think I could in good conscience recommend this to anyone.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
Disclaimer: I only read 75% of the story. Put it down and never picked it up again. It's not that I don't like the subject matter--in fact, the only r...moreDisclaimer: I only read 75% of the story. Put it down and never picked it up again. It's not that I don't like the subject matter--in fact, the only reason I got through 75% of it was because this sort of stuff pushes all my buttons and so few people write material of this nature. What I didn't like was the way it was handled.
The story is full of grossly implausible situations and behaviors, even within the context of the world it created. Everything was explained and narrated to within an inch of its life (and sometimes well beyond). I liked the way in which the society spiraled so out of control--I thought that was an excellent mirror to hold up to just about any abuse of power, though it read more like a soapbox than a novel--but the author didn't even bother attempting to weave that information in naturally; instead there was just a giant expository info dump at the beginning of the book. Which pretty much sets the tone for the whole thing: one giant expository info dump after another, and worse, they meander all over the place. The story goes off into tangent after tangent. Even the places where the material is actually relevant to plot and character lack focus and wander all over the page.
It's sad because this author is certainly capable of crafting a sentence, and the idea of the world he's created is a fascinating one. Alas, everything was handled with a bludgeon rather than a scalpel, and with a degree of either laziness or utter lack of editorial direction (or both) that made the book suffer deeply--frankly, to and past the point of failure.
I know a lot of people raved about this book, but I can't help but think they were raving about the idea of it rather than the execution of it, which fell so flat I felt nothing pretty much the entire way through--even at the parts where clearly I was supposed to be moved and horrified and full of pity. (Of course, YMMV.) I wish this author had had a strong enough editor and the three or four months of reworking and rewriting it would have taken to kick the book into shape. I do suspect the talent's there, and certainly the creativity. But none of it was realized in this story.(less)