This story really drew me in, because I’ve loved science fiction ever since I got hooked on the Ender series in high school. This book was on its way...moreThis story really drew me in, because I’ve loved science fiction ever since I got hooked on the Ender series in high school. This book was on its way to carving another place in my heart. Then, halfway through it lost its steam and started to fall flat. It kept my interest all the way through and ended up being a great story, but there were a few difficulties that really bothered me and threw me out of the story — namely, several important events that happened off-page and were only told later in the story. I suppose this happened because our narrator Riv (the POV is third person close), is out of commission part of the time and our two main characters are separated for about half of the story on different planets. Also, I didn’t feel like our characters got to spend enough on page time together for us to see their connection growing (which happens very slowly because Ducks has always been straight with only a passing interest in men and because he is healing from severe physical and emotional trauma). There are also a few issues explored in the story, such as Riv’s emotional abuse by his father during his childhood, which are touched upon and then never answered. This brings me to a huge pet peeve of mine (which is personal because I’m sure there are some others who don’t mind this): we don’t find out until, literally, the very last moment in the story what happened to make Riv kill another man. This is an integral part of the story, because it is Riv’s whole drive in going to Maltana, in saving Ducks, and in explaining his whole personality. Therefore, I felt like it was impossible to really understand our narrator until it was too late. I also think that we’re misled a bit by the blurb for the book, which says “To help him find [his voice] again, Riv will have to expose the painful past that tore a hole in his own life. And hope that together, their ragged edges will fit together to form a whole.” This doesn’t happen if Riv only tells what happened after it is no longer imperative to Duck’s treatment. All of these things frustrated me because the components of the story were there, they just needed to be rearranged to understand the story and the characters better. In essence, the story had potential, but needed some polishing...
The Mother created the Aisling to Dream the threads of man and the Father created the Guardian to guard against his power. Or did he? How much influen...moreThe Mother created the Aisling to Dream the threads of man and the Father created the Guardian to guard against his power. Or did he? How much influence do those around us, as well as those who govern over us have to shape and mold our beliefs? And when we’re cultivated to their ideal, how does that war against our own sense of self and reason? These are the questions posed in this novel about warring political factions, the two people they are warring over, and the beliefs that they hold so sacred they are no longer belief but fact. On a closer level, this is a novel about what happens to the psyche of a man who has been chained to his fate. Conversely, it is also about the healing powers of love, trust, and a deep sense of self.
The major focus of this story is the world building, and it grows very organically. There is no info-dump. In fact, I believe that the opposite is true here. We are forced to put the pieces of this story together ourselves — forced to keep up with the story, as what one believes to be a fairy tale and another considers fact merge together with a cold war (that is fast becoming a real one) and a spark of what will soon become a revolution. We aren’t even sure of who our two characters are until two-thirds of the story has passed. This was done very well and it added a whole new ingredient to the dialogue between Wil and Dallin, which was the best part of the story. Because we don’t know exactly who our main characters really are (and both of them don’t know everything about who they are either), their dialogue becomes the most imporant clue to the reader. It shows us who they are at their core before we are told what their roles are, what others have ordained for them. By the time we figure out what those roles are, we already know what kind of people they both are, what they want and need, what they will do for freedom and what they will sacrifice, and just how steely their strength is to survive...
If I'm correct, this book is Kate McMurray's first published novel. At least, fro...moreReview posted at The Armchair Reader for Kate McMurray Week!
If I'm correct, this book is Kate McMurray's first published novel. At least, from her Goodreads info and a quick look. It does list her short "In December My Heart's Full of Spring" as being released first but, as it is available now for free, I'm not sure if it was ever published or not. Anyway, the whole reason for that is that I always find it rather interesting to go back and read an author's first published book when they're more well established. Sometimes you find that you hate it and you don't really understand how an author ever turned their writing around, and sometimes you find that the quality was always there. I think I found this somewhere in between, which is the best place for it now in retrospect, if you ask me. It means that at least in my opinion, Kate's writing has gotten better and her stories more interesting and dynamic with practice, showing growth and not a plateau in talent.
So, naturally, that means that while I liked this book and found it an engaging read it didn't really wow me. But, in knowing that I was going back to read an author's first book, an author I find myself quite fond of, an interesting thing happened. I biased my own expectations and ended up liking the book more than I thought I would. It's a bit like when I finally ended up watching the Sixth Sense and thought, huh? I had heard too many praises. Only the opposite was what happened here. And that's a good thing to happen for me, as the reader :)
In part, this is a mystery and a contemporary romance, those two things here being somewhat different. The framework of the story is wrapped up in the mystery, how just after NYPD cop Noah meets a cute guy named Harry in a bar while on vacation in Florida, he sees on the news that Harry has gone missing and is pulled into the investigation as the last man who saw him. But the filling in between that framework is much like a contemporary romance. When Harry comes stumbling out of the forest beat up and running from his captors, the two are reintroduced and Noah is set to bodyguard duty until they can figure out just who was wanting to kill Harry and why. That's the real meat of the story.
And honestly, I found myself wishing that there were a bit more synergy between those two elements. The story easily moves between action, with the two dodging a hail of bullets to quiet downtime in their safe room at a resort getting to know each other and Noah slowly opening up about his past traumas. The problem for me was that at times these two things seemed to get a bit out of proportion, with those moments together taking precedent and leaving the mystery behind to pick up later. And the problem there is that the story, at times, seemed to lose momentum.
In all, this was a really fun book to read. It's mostly light and easy to read, but the action kicks it up a notch to make it more exciting. And it's easily satisfying, ending in a solid, feel-good HEA. It's not a bad book to take with you on vacation, which I suppose is apropos ;) And at the very least, if you find yourself a fan of Kate McMurray and having not yet read this book, then it's always interesting to go back and see where an author started.(less)
DNF Reason -- I just thought this story was terrible. I'm sorry I can't offer you examples, but I read it a while ago and all I remember was that one...moreDNF Reason -- I just thought this story was terrible. I'm sorry I can't offer you examples, but I read it a while ago and all I remember was that one character was an annoying, whiny brat and the other a pushover.(less)