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Lex Talionis

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Silver Medal for Best Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror Ebook from the Independent Publishers Book Awards 2015 (IPPY Award)

Vengeance is only the beginning…

On one of Earth’s planetary outposts, a young woman dies–and is brought back to life by a mysterious alien.

Inside a military starship, a wounded soldier is stalked by an unseen enemy.


When Lex reawakens in a clinic, she doesn’t remember who she is, or who killed her. All she remembers is a phrase she does not understand. Lex Talionis. The law of revenge. Stripped of her past, Lex focuses on the only thing she can. Retribution. She will find the people who murdered her and she will make them pay.

What Lex doesn’t know is that she’s being hunted. The alien who saved her and the soldier fighting for survival are the keys to her past…and her future. She must discover what they know before the hunter finds her. Every clue brings her closer to powerful enemies. Everything she learns draws her nearer to the person who almost destroyed her.

The only man she has ever loved.

354 pages, Paperback

First published May 19, 2014

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About the author

R.S.A. Garcia

16 books34 followers
R. S. A. Garcia lives and works on the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean with a large family and too many dogs–though only one belongs to her.

She decided to be an author when she discovered that Louisa May Alcott had been published at the age of 8. Determined to waste no more time, she finished her first collection of stories at 10. She has not stopped writing since, and indulged herself in a deep love of all speculative fiction despite the best advice of every English teacher she has ever had.

Her debut novel, "Lex Talionis" was released in 2014 and received a starred review from Publishers Weekly, and the silver medal for Best Scifi/Fantasy/Horror ebook from the 2015 IPPY Awards. She is working on other novels in between hyperventilating over edits.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 59 reviews
Profile Image for Elizabeth Bear.
Author 308 books2,244 followers
April 11, 2014
A tense, morally complex science fiction thriller that tackles hard questions of loyalty, exploitation, and human decency without compromising on plot.
Profile Image for Alex West.
100 reviews13 followers
April 6, 2017
Intense, beautifully written space opera with believable characters.

This debut novel demonstrates talent from the author in pretty much every aspect of crafting fiction: prose style, characterisation, plot, suspense, setting, and ideas. Lex Talionis succeeded in putting me right into the mind and body of the main characters. The basic plot is ultimately a typical thriller, but it is told with a great deal of control and literary flair. Stylistically, I find that most scifi stories tend to play out like an elaborate puzzle observed at arms length, but reading this book, I felt like I was there.

Garcia is economical with her descriptions, but her words are beautifully chosen and the images and atmosphere will remain with you long after you put the book down. The worldbuilding is original but so down-to-earth you almost don’t notice it—it reminded me of District 9.

The dialogue is sassy and fun:

“Hell no,” Sonja replied, speeding up as she hit a straightway, brightly lit buildings and the flash of passing headlights going by them in a blur. “I think your instincts are right. There’s something else going on here. I just don’t think the victim is to blame. Not yet, anyway.”

“But it feels wrong, and you didn’t meet her. She’s no push-over. She’s plenty dangerous herself.”

Sonja barked a short laugh. “So she had a couple of nightmares and she threw a tray at you. Don’t take this the wrong way, Linkow, but you’re an asshole. Lots of people would like to throw a tray at you.”

But Garcia is poetic when she wants to be:

She is bent over, looking into the glistening heart of a bead of water, studying the hues and the dance of light it projects. Everything around her is damp. Water drips in soothing rhythms somewhere in the distance. The grass beneath her feet is dew-slick. The air smells of earth, vegetation and moisture; it is a heavy thing. It pushes against her nostrils like the wet, welcoming tongue of a pet.

The opening is a classic amnesia story: a young woman is found, beaten almost to death, apparently raped, with no memory of who or what she is. She remembers the phrase ‘Lex Talionis’, literally ‘the law of revenge’, and so takes the name ‘Lex’ until she can discover who she is. Garcia uses this device to sustain tension and reveal information at a rate a reader can enjoy, a steady trickle that you almost don’t notice, but which gradually builds up an important picture of the society. It is a galactic society with aliens and some imaginative flourishes, but the city where we spend most of the story feels pretty similar to a modern, Western city, with some minor tweaks in technology. There is space travel and genetic engineering, but for the most part, changes in technology don’t seem to have wrought significant changes in society. Rather, the scifi aspect of the story is used to play out a story of cultural conflict and multinational corporations in a way that avoids being a commentary on any particular real-world situation.

Lex in this first third has an intensity and a similarity of purpose to Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill, except that she doesn’t know who betrayed her or why. This need is powerful and compels you to turn the page.

That said, looking back on the book with a bit of distance, I would have preferred if Lex had done more to earn the return of her memory. Despite her inner strength and complexity, and some satisfying fight scenes, when you actually think back over the book, Lex is a fairly passive character who mostly suffers things done to her rather than driving the plot with her own actions. Her most interesting self-initiated activities happen in flashback or ‘off-camera’.

This is not so apparent at the time of reading, because she is intense and intriguing, and because she is not the only POV character. We also follow the stories of a compassionate doctor, two hard-boiled detectives trying to solve a probably related murder, and a number of other characters whose mysterious agendas are gradually revealed. There are a couple of good twists and turns in how the plot plays out, and at least one caught me completely by surprise.

With respect to the rape, be warned that Lex does finally remember the incident in a pretty graphic flashback. However, it is worth commenting on the place of the rape in the story. Despite that the plot is almost a ‘rape and revenge’, the rape itself is not a manifestation of some kind of misogyny and not a comment on misogyny; rather, you get the strong impression that events would have taken a similar course had Lex been male. It arises out of a complex interplay of class politics and a history of cultural oppression. Lex’s story is a struggle to be accepted in this world when she does not quite belong anywhere.

In fact, the book presents a society that seems free of gender inequality. Women are simply there alongside the men, commanding armies or corporate empires, or investigating brutal murders. No one bats an eyelid when they are as tough and aggressive as the men. It’s situation normal. In this sense, Lex Talionis is a refreshing and empowering book, and a feminist revision of classic scifi. On the other hand, it presents a story almost completely devoid of domestic spaces, child rearing, or anything other than traditionally male-dominated spheres. This is not a criticism of the book so much as an observation of what it is and what to expect.

Lex Talionis is a gripping page turner, but one where you nevertheless have to pay quite close attention. The narrative is not entirely linear, and there are quite a few characters and names to keep track of. Also, be aware that this is book 1 of an as-yet-unwritten series, and ends on a note which is not a cliffhanger but could easily be described as ‘stay tuned for the next exciting installment’.
Profile Image for Kelly.
272 reviews181 followers
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April 14, 2021
A young woman is brutally beaten and assaulted and left for dead. She is taken to the nearest clinic where she does flirt with death, only to be revived by an odd alien, much to the surprise of the attending doctor. The creature stays by her bedside throughout her recovery, which is remarkably swift. It does not communicate with the doctors, nor does it eat. The alien’s existence is one of the least mysterious aspects of the story, however. The young woman, herself, is a conundrum. She is genetically enhanced, possibly bred to be a soldier. She is highly intelligent and testing reveals she has command of some seventy languages. Her genetic code has some markers that cannot be identified. Most puzzling of all is the fact she cannot remember who she is.

In the beginning, that almost seems a blessing, especially considering what she suffered before she was found. But as her recovery progresses, finding out who she is becomes more important because people are looking for her and they’re not nice people.

‘Lex Talionis’ is an ambitious debut. The writing is tight and the plot is taut and gritty. Dark themes swirl through the pages as the action jumps forward and back, from the girl with no memory to an injured man, Michael, crawling through a bloodied spaceship, seeking to escape a terrible death. At the end of part one, these two meet and, though they are obviously connected by more than a gruesome ordeal, the circumstances remain part of the mystery for the reader. But not for the girl who finally remembers her name: Shalon Conway, the meaning of which gains weight as the story progresses. More importantly, she remembers who she is and why she was removed from her home.

Part two takes us back two months to set up Shalon’s betrayal and subsequent assault. We then follow the course of her revenge, according to the old law: lex talionis, often interpreted as ‘eye for an eye’.

The world-building in this novel is astounding. I had a clear picture of people and places from beginning to end. The plot is interesting and intriguing, meaning the story is not only attention-worthy, but has enough hooks to keep the pages turning. Author R.S.A. Garcia employs some interesting writing techniques, most of which suit the futuristic setting. Where the book failed to absolutely capture me was in the characterisation. Despite her ordeal, I never felt more than passing sympathy for Shalon. She didn’t invite it. I actually felt more sorry for both Michael and Andor, two men I should have rightfully despised. I think the reverse order of the story is responsible. When we meet Shalon, she has no idea who she is and so neither does the reader. By the time we do properly meet her, half the book is done and the dip into the past does little to flesh out her character. She’s already focused and purposeful. Her feelings for Andor feel like an inconvenience or an afterthought.

Despite this failing for me, ‘Lex Talionis’ is a remarkable book. I recommend it without hesitation for readers of darker, grittier science fiction and I look forward to seeing what else R.S.A Garcia comes up with, in this world, or another of her devise.

Written for SFCrowsnest.
Profile Image for Allan Dyen-Shapiro.
Author 10 books7 followers
July 5, 2014
Were this book written in strict chronological order, it would have felt like a pulp thriller set in a space opera type world. Lots of fight scenes (I especially liked one in which two completely different scenes are dovetailed mid-fight), lots of intrigue.

But it wasn't. And that seems to have been its key strength. The first section has at least four different narratives running simultaneously, and as the author doesn't tell you what led to what, each stands on its own. The reader wonders--is this a medical thriller about an alien with healing powers that seem like something Octavia Butler might have dreamed up? Is this a story about a massacre on a spaceship? Or is it space opera political intrigue?

In the second section of the book, the action drops backward and follows a continuous plot line, ultimately explaining all that came before. However, it isn't until the third section that all aspects of the book come together.

So, it was a thriller with science fiction "what's going on" puzzle to it. And that made it an enjoyable read.

Several of the characters and their emotions seemed very real to me. Lex, Colin, and Lex's father, at least. They were well drawn.

It ended on a lead-up to the sequel. Moreover, the big idea the author seemed to be developing--a contrast between revenge and justice--also seemed to be saved for the second novel, as there's lots of layered revenges in this novel, but only a statement of how the main protagonist felt bad about the revenge and moved toward justice. This movement wasn't dramatized or enacted--probably in the sequel.

So in some ways, as a reader, I suspend judgment, waiting to see how things play out in Volume II of this series (when it comes out). The biggest issue on which I felt I as a reader had to suspend judgment on, for these reasons, was the treatment of the protagonist's gang rape--a major plot point in the book. The clinical description, in real-time, from the point-of-view of the victim was disturbing, as it was intended to be. The scenes of shame and anger were certainly justified. And the revenge that wasn't really satisfying made sense. However, the book started with the protagonist as a fully developed character, but post-rape, it never got to the point where she went on to do other things with her life. She had revenge against those directly responsible and had not yet exacted revenge/justice on those responsible on a higher level. She's changed, and romance/sex scenes late in the book indicate that she'd recovered to some extent, but she hadn't yet evolved into a person who could love or trust or live independent of revenge by the time the book ended.

Were this a stand-alone with no sequel planned, I'd consider that a flaw. Instead, it's a prompt to read the sequel when it appears.

Fast moving with clean prose, hooks that kept you turning pages, and tricks that raised it above the level of pulp adventure: a recommended read.
Profile Image for Andrew.
Author 22 books48 followers
November 21, 2014
“You’ve remembered everything then?”

The laugh that escaped her was both soft and bitter and hesaw a muscle tic in her jaw. “Everything, yes. And you know what they say. Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it.” Her breath caught for a moment, as if in the wake of a sharp pain. When she spoke again, for the first time, she sounded her age. “I had just turned eighteen when they took me. My birthday was three nights earlier. I was still a virgin when they raped me.”

Shocked, Colin could only look at her. Oh, God. How could they do that? What kind of beasts could do that? He wanted to go to her, hold her and tell her that she was safe now, but something stopped him. Something in the way she held herself.

“God. I’m so sorry.”

“I know you mean well, Colin, but it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have trusted anyone. People like me can’t afford that. But I was stupid. I forgot. I wanted to forget.” She paused. “You won’t understand. You don’t know who I am. What I am.”

He said softly, “So tell me.”

The expression on her face when she turned to him grabbed at his chest like a fist. Her calmness was terrible to look at, difficult to comprehend.

“My name,” she said, in a voice that never wavered, “is Shalon Conway. I am the daughter of Jason and Falon Conway and heir to Conway Enterprises. Gilene Conway is my aunt—and the woman who murdered my parents.”


***

The debut novel from author R.S.A. Garcia tells the story of a young woman who is happened upon in an alley after having been brutally raped and left for dead. She is taken to a PortCity hospital on Serron, where thanks to the skill of physician Colin Mayfeld and an unexpected alien ally called Oux, she survives. However, she remembers little of who she was or how and why she was attacked—the answers to which form the crux of Lex Talionis’s narrative.

Lex, as she is dubbed (until such time as her memory returns), is an enigma: despite suffering multiple broken bones and lacerated organs—not to mention the revelation that it was not one man who raped her but five—it isn’t long before she summons the strength to get out of bed on her own. She also shows a warrior’s aptitude for combat and can speak a number of different languages; it soon becomes clear to Colin, and to those others helping and/or suspicious of Lex, that she is not entirely human.

Lex is an interesting character, though her DNA has definite shades of River Tam from Firefly. That being said, she’s a strong protagonist, and my interest in her fate is what kept me reading long after the story had lost its initial appeal—the mystery and investigation into what happened to her and why.

While I remained entertained throughout, Lex Talionis is not without its share of problems—some small, some glaring. I noted a number of minor grammatical hitches throughout—problems with hyphenation more than anything. The larger problems, however, have to do with character, tone, and structure.

I mentioned Lex was an intriguing character, but she’s also the only intriguing character. The rest? They’re cut-outs—two dimensional characters who exist to either propel the plot (Chris), to fall inexplicably and creepily in love with the just recently horribly raped and abused girl who looks only a little past eighteen (Colin), or to be moustache twirling caricatures of villainy (the troopers). A few of the characters seem interesting, but feel underutilized in the story—for example, I found myself wanting far more of Anton and his potentially troubled relationship with Troi. Most underutilized, though, is the villain, Gilene Conway, who we’re told is “the worst of a bad lot,” yet remains off the page and in the shadows and thus feels intangible and never that much of a threat—it’s all tell and no show.

With regards to tone, the book feels a bit at odds with its own identity. For example, it imagines a far-reaching set of worlds, some of which feel quite authentic (the detail of the Desolation in particular was excellent), but then resorts to boilerplate sci-fi language and nomenclature, with lots of vaguely named places like the Assembly, the Facility, the Program, the Outsiders, and phrases such as “Then I’ll be up the spacelanes without a hyperdrive.” None of it is offensive or anything like that, but the creativity that’s gone into the creation of the worlds is not matched in the book’s overall language or texture.

But none of these issues were as problematic for me as its structure—namely that there’s a rather large time jump in the middle of the book’s third part. It offers some fairly dramatic character changes and tosses a few unexpected wrinkles into the mix, but everything that’s been skipped feels like stuff I really want to see. It’s possible I will see that material at some point, in a sequel perhaps, but for this novel it felt more confusing than anything. I was left, in the end, feeling as if all the various story threads were merely set-ups for pay-offs still to come; the lack of any sort of closure was frustrating.

As I said above, I enjoyed Lex Talionis for what it was—an initially intriguing popcorn mystery with some excellent action scenes throughout (the author does have a feel for rhythm and motion when it comes to fight scenes). However, I don’t feel I can recommend it on its own, as it simply leaves too much what I feel is essential content for future stories.
Profile Image for Online Eccentric Librarian.
2,839 reviews5 followers
May 18, 2014


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Lex Talionis is a well written sci fi novel featuring a strong female protagonist in a harsh, gritty story. The author successfully uses different POVs and even time periods, to create a mystery worth reading. Although there are aliens and metahumans, they aren't used as a deus ex machina and add to the story in very simple but effective ways. The book is a dense read but a mature protagonist and well built world keep the plot moving at an engaging pace.

Story: A badly beaten and sexually assaulted woman is saved from the streets and ends up in a hospital. She has no memory of how she was abused or who she is. As she spends time in the hospital recovering, a large cast of characters will become involved in her case - from the doctor treating her, hackers, police, government officials, even a circus performer and an alien. The more Lex comes to remember, the more she realizes just how much danger she is in.

The structure of the book is quite unique: the first half deals with Lex recuperating and the reader slowly gaining clues as to who she is and how she ended up in that situation. By the midpoint, her memories are restored and we are thrust into the past, and another life, to see the events and how they led up to that point. Finally, a small section at the end continues with how she deals with the memories and their repercussions.

Although flashbacks, especially one that takes nearly half the book, ordinarily would drag the story down, here this conceit works beautifully. There were many characters in the first half and we get to see how they ended up in the position they are in - not just Lex but quite a few others. At the heart of the story is a megaconglomeration, the ruthless woman running it, and meta humans who escaped laboratories in order to free themselves from enslavement. At the center of all that is Lex - not a metahuman herself but possessing traits beyond an ordinary human.

The story is quite gritty and the rape scenes were tough to read but well written so as not to have shock value. Lex is quite a grounded and strong character; it is during the flashback section that we find out exactly why she has such great skills. Interwoven with Lex's story in the first half of the book is the saga of a ship operator escaping from some horror stalking his ship and killing the crew. The true origin of the horror and its connection to Lex becomes obvious by the second part.

In all, this is very layered and nuanced sci fi - gritty in a Bladerunner sort of way but with interesting and distinct characters. This is a solid 4 stars for me - to make it 5 stars, I think some of the side characters could have been trimmed to make this leaner.

Reviewed from an ARC.
Profile Image for Tony Peak.
Author 28 books331 followers
July 14, 2014
In Lex Talionis, a woman who’s been nearly beaten to death wakes up in a clinic, with no memory of what happened, or who she is. What she does know is that she wants to find those responsible for her pain—not only physical damage, but psychological tragedies that span the stars. As memories trickle into her mind, she focuses on a rule taught in her youth: that of Lex Talionis, the law of retaliation. Armed with an unbreakable will, she takes the name Lex, just as galactic forces act to prevent her recovery. A doctor develops feelings for Lex, an alien bonds with her mind and heals her battered body, an empath is stunned by her telepathic abilities--and that’s just the beginning of Rhonda Garcia’s unflinching, wonderful novel.

Set in a far future where corporations and independent enclaves rule the galaxy, Lex Talionis keeps the science fiction in the background and its compelling, life-like characters in the foreground. I immediately liked Lex, with her no-nonsense curtness, coupled with a touching vulnerability. Rhonda writes her characters with such reality that I easily envisioned them as real people. I wanted them to succeed, to win, or to receive justice, based on their deeds in the plot. Dialogue is top notch, given in outbursts, spurts, and intelligent musings comparable to Frank Herbert’s Dune. Physical sensations and emotions are handled with expert delivery. But best of all, these are complex personalities. Even the villains have feelings, and Lex, the heroine, possesses a cold morality, born of her hardships, desires, and angst. Like some of the characters in the story, I fell in love with Lex myself. Others I found compelling are the empath/psychoanalyst Anton, his mutant underworld contact, Troi, and a small green alien called Oux. But there isn’t a weak link in this cast.

The novel is divided into three parts, and once Lex regains her memories, there is a sizable section detailing who she was, what happened—but the why doesn’t come until the third act. These aren’t annoying flashback sequences, at least for me, because at that point, I was so invested in Lex’s plight that I would have read through pages of infodumps just to discover what happens. The story is gritty, even brutal at times, but this is strong material, not fluff. There is a heavy level of suspense throughout. The action scenes are well done, and the sensual, erotic ones left me wanting more. The ending demands a sequel, which I will certainly read when it comes out.

I know I’m gushing over this novel, but I really enjoyed it. Rhonda Garcia is definitely on my literary radar. Read Lex Talionis, and she’ll be on yours, too.
Profile Image for Hannah.
1,981 reviews28 followers
January 19, 2016
Lex Talionis by R. S. A. Garcia is a great sci-fi story. In a futuristic setting space travel is possible, geneticist have been band from altering and manipulating the human genome but that didn't stop them.

A mystery of a young woman found beaten, gang raped and on the verge of death dies in the ER and brought back to life by a strange alien creature. A young doctor obsessed with his patient who can't remember who she is. A forensic pathologist with more secrets and guilt then his shoulders can handle. Two detectives bound and determined to find out what happened to the young woman and how she ties to a crashed transport. A man stuck on a transport surrounded by blood and carnage that use to be his crew mates.

The first half of this book is Lex with amnesia, plagued by strange dreams and an unusual companion that communicates through telepathy. Colin the young obsessed doctor tries to help Lex trigger her memory and asks the help of an old friend and professor Anton the Forensic pathologist to look into her case. It is obvious she is a N-gene, a genetically modified human who was created in-vitro and modifications that went far beyond what was available to the general public. Meanwhile throughout the first half we follow a man who has narrowly escaped death and is trying to get to helm to send out a mayday and set autopilot. The first half ends when the strange alien life form does something to Lex that jogs her memories.

The second half of the book alternates between flashbacks and the present. We are introduced to more characters and yet even more betrayal and action. Without revealing to much, because the mystery is what makes the book, you journey with Lex two months prior to when the book started, meeting her foster parents, friends and the love of her life. In the present Lex is on the run and planning her intricate and in depth plan to take down the first of all the people who betrayed her. We also pick up the story line from her flashbacks and find out what happened afterward on her home planet as well as what happened after she left on the run.

This is a very complex book with many different aspects and if you can follow along without getting lost it is very much worth the read. The story ends, yes, but it does leave it open for more and I hope their are more books coming.
Profile Image for Kate.
Author 5 books31 followers
April 26, 2014
***I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***

In the interest of full disclosure, the author and I became casual online buddies AFTER the book was made available on NetGalley, but that had absolutely no influence on my review.
___________________
Wow. WOW.

I don't normally read sci-fi, but I would gladly pay money for any sequel...with an ending like that, there MUST be a sequel! But not in a HA HA, HERE'S YOUR CLIFFIE, GIMME MONEY kind of way, thank goodness! This is also a very good example of world-building done RIGHT...so many authors, when faced with the daunting task of truly creating a world (or in this case, worlds) from the ground up, it's a case of crash and burn. Here, I never had a problem following along and picturing these worlds, yet the author never resorts to rampant exposition or infodumps. Instead, we learn about the worlds by living in them with the characters.

"Lex" was absolutely amazing, a strong female character who could kick some serious a** but still be capable of tenderness and compassion. The minor characters were equally well-rounded, and I was extremely impressed with the creativity the author showed in making each of them unique in every aspect.

As I mentioned above, I am PRAYING that there is a sequel, not just so we'll have the pleasure of reading more from Ms. Garcia, but because there's so much we don't know about!

There is a rape scene in the book, however the reader is warned about it in advance via the narrative. Although it's painful to read, I didn't feel that it was exploitative or "over the top" for shock value in terms of readability. It made the violent bloodbath on board that ship much more understandable, especially when we find out the "parties" that carried it out.

I could keep writing and writing, but I would wear out the spoiler tag, so I just urge you to enjoy this book on your own. It's not all sunshine, rainbows, and cute alien kittens, but it is an incredibly solid readable book, and I recommend it, without reservation.
Profile Image for Christopher Gerrib.
Author 3 books15 followers
June 29, 2014
One of the authors I follow, Tobias Buckell, recommended Lex Talionis on his blog. The author, R. S. A. Garcia, is, like Buckell, from the Caribbean. In her case, she still lives in the region on the island of Trinidad. I decided to take Toby’s recommendation, and I’m glad I did. The book opens on a spaceship where a badly wounded man is desperately trying to get to the bridge, and has to avoid the thing that’s killed all of his fellow crewmembers. We then cut to an alien city where a human merchant discovers another human in the gutter being attacked by a local alien.

The story then races off from there, and becomes a mystery. The human in the gutter is a woman, a soldier, genetically engineered and suffering from amnesia. The man on the spaceship reveals his secrets more slowly, but he proves to be less than sympathetic. The world created by Garcia is less than friendly, and has many problems. It’s also a place where humans are by no means the top species in the universe.

I have to say I found Lex Talionis an engrossing read. Figuring out who did what and why was interesting. I found the characters well-developed and believable. I did have a bit of a problem with the structure of the novel, in that there were multiple flashbacks and other jumps in time, but I was able to sort out where and when with no real problem. In short, I found Lex Talionis a great read.
Profile Image for Edwina Harvey.
Author 37 books18 followers
July 26, 2014
Lex Talionis by R.S.A Garcia, Dragonwell Publishing, 2014

Caveat: I edited this book.

A bruised, battered unconscious young woman is found in a laneway on an alien planet. Her rescuer takes her to the nearest medical centre where she captures the heart and imagination of the doctor treating her. She has no ID to say who she is or what planet she comes from, and for all intents and purposes she should be dead, yet with the help of an alien creature with which she seems to have an inexplicable link, she not only revives but survives. But she has amnesia – so she can’t tell her doctor or the local police who she is. She names herself Lex Talionis, the old Roman principle for justice – an eye for an eye. Her past life comes back to her in a series of flashbacks, and she realises why she’s called herself this name: she wants revenge for what has befallen her.

The dark overtones and subplot of espionage reminded me a little of the Bladerunner movie. Garcia’s heroine, Lex, is at once tough but vulnerable, worldly-wise yet naive as she not only rediscovers who she was but uncovers her future. Garcia has written a dark, expertly woven, and well-paced futuristic first novel. I look forward to reading more of her work.
152 reviews3 followers
April 9, 2014
This is an unusual book that caused me to have numerous emotional responses as I read it. It is a boldly written books that refuses to follow a predictable run of the mill story line. There is some violence with a rape scene that was quite emotionally challenging for me to work my way through. I have never seen this issue approached in this manner. The build up to the actual event made it even more emotionally charged. There were some sections in the early part of the book that had more detail than I needed (i.e. when a character survived a massacre) but there were also other sections where I could not put the book down and stayed up all hours reading. I even took the book to work to read at lunch and found myself still reading as I was standing in line to pay for my lunch and walking to my car. There were a couple of potential love interests involved that I felt were not right (at least at this point) for the character and I am glad the writer did not try to force this. The ending was intriguing and I suspect that the best is yet to come in future books.
Profile Image for Karen.
9 reviews
July 9, 2014
Really enjoyed this one. It caught me by surprise, and I must say it is NOT a simple sci fi novel. There are moral themes and a complex storyline. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Mike Douton.
1 review1 follower
August 4, 2016
Lex takes one of my favorite sci-fi tropes and runs with it blending the whole thing with mystery-thriller aspects. Protags with amnesia that are trying to learn who they are right along with the reader are an underutilized trope in the genre. Other than this book, I can think of four in all of my bookshelves that deal with it. One of them happens to be my all time favorite book, Nine Princes in Amber. I guess that meant I started reading Lex with the bar set pretty high. That was alright, ’cause Garcia nailed it.

I mentioned above how Garcia blended some mystery-thriller tropes into her book. I felt that a lot of them were in the storytelling itself. There are two very distinct parts of the story corresponding with how much memory Lex has. Because of this, the timeline and the POVs bounce around a lot. It’s not sometime I often see done to the extent Garcia does it. I found it different, but never distracting or confusing. The book also starts with a slow burn rather than huge bang. Garcia takes the time to set things up in the first quarterish of the book. She’s setting us up for a marathon, not a sprint. I only dabble in mystery books, but I got a sense that the pacing came from the influence of that genre.

Holy shit, the payoff is worth it.

Excerpt from http://stuffandorjunk.wordpress.com/2...
Profile Image for Danielle.
99 reviews9 followers
July 29, 2016
(Title courtesy of Dragonwell Publishing and NetGalley)

If you enjoy books with perspective changes with each new chapter and are a fan of sci-fi futuristic space fantasy, this is definitely the book for you!

The story is very well written and you can tell right off the bat that this storyline was planned and deeply thought through before it was written. The first 20% of the book basically set the tone and introduced the main characters. I usually have a really big problem with books that start out like this because I feel as though the story isn't progressing and all this introduction is just filler to make the novel longer. However, this style of storytelling totally worked in this novel. I was completely intrigued with all the mysteries and I couldn't wait to find out what happens.

This book presents an interesting look into the complexities of human nature without being over the top. I really enjoy Lex's character because she represents a strong female who is totally badass and doesn't whine or complain about her situation. If you can follow the constant changing narrative, then this is definitely a book to read.

Good read!
Profile Image for Bob Lee.
Author 4 books14 followers
August 28, 2014
I thought this science fiction novel was very well written and imaginative. There are multiple threads and characters, which are well thought out. I was a bit disappointed that it took so long for the threads to come together, though, and the ending was a bit anticlimactic and seems set up for a sequel.

I thought the fight scenes were excellent. There was one unique sequence of two fight scenes on different planets where the novel switches back and forth between them. It was uniquely accomplished.

Be warned..there is a pretty graphic rape/beat-up scene that was fairly protracted. There were also a lot of characters, so it can be a challenge to keep track of all of them.

Overall, a fairly good debut novel.
Profile Image for Jay Williams.
1,682 reviews18 followers
April 19, 2014
An exciting and thought-provoking story! I hope it is the beginning of a series because I definitely want to see how the issues play out for the characters. Each character is well-described, but some are definitely more likeable than others. Some scenes were difficult to endure, but contributed greatly to the power of the story. I enjoyed the story, but ended with a desire for so much more.
85 reviews12 followers
April 29, 2014
A compelling, thought-provoking novel. R.S.A. Garcia is an author to watch! Great world-building and strong characters. (Love the chapter epigraphs!)I hope that *Lex Talionis* is the first in a series! Very enjoyable and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Victoria Lee.
184 reviews28 followers
November 5, 2018
I highly recommend Lex Talionis, a science fiction novel filled with mystery and intrigue, where a young woman wakes up after an alien resurrects her, with no knowledge of who she is. She embarks on a quest to figure out what happened and get revenge.
Profile Image for Wendy S. Delmater.
Author 14 books14 followers
August 4, 2017
This is a fast-paced, science fiction action-thriller. It’s meaty in more ways than one: 324 pages of skiffy goodness with excellent characters, intrigue, aliens, and a whirlwind plot.

In summary, a young woman is brought to a hospital in very serious condition, found after being mugged by an alien in an off-world alley but she’d been worked over by several men before that. She dies on the table. But a small and different alien which had been brought to the same hospital by his temporary keeper jumps on her and it does something, bringing her back to life. As the layers of her trauma unfold and her memories return, little clues are dropped in small excepts quoted at the heads of the chapters. Her returning memories are of genetic secrets and love and betrayal, and war. The pull of this book is the mystery, and the protagonist is a very believable unreliable narrator. You’re as breathless as she is when some of the dots connect. The numerous plot reversals, when they hit, are sometimes foreshadowed but often swift and hard.

This is a book with, eventually, a great deal of graphic violence, which drives the plot so it’s not gratuitous but if you don’t like that sort of thing. . . be warned. It also involves graphic rape(s) but rather than using that as a “let’s feel sorry for the poor female victim” ploy, this is a very strong woman who is subdued by treachery. So when she gets free, readers are treated to being with her when she pretty much nukes the bastards, and not from orbit, so she suffers a bit as well. And if you love hand-to hand combat there is a particularly affecting set of scenes where you’re watching two simultaneous fight scenes on different planets knitted together into a smooth whole that is greater than the sum of its parts that you simply must read.

Lex Talionis is Latin for “The Law of Retaliation,” used by her society to mean the ancient eye-for-an-eye sort of justice that hinges on revenge. The revenge has layers, too. And the for the next layer, where R. S. A Garcia ups the stakes, you’ll have to read the next book in the series.
Profile Image for Sarah-Jayne Briggs.
Author 1 book47 followers
August 8, 2017
(This review may contain spoilers).

When I originally read the blurb of this book, I really thought it sounded intriguing, even though I've become somewhat hesitant with young adult books, especially those that focus primarily on a female character.

One of the strongest parts of this book, I felt, was the mystery surrounding Lex. I was curious enough to keep reading the book in the hopes that I would find out her past and why the alien had attached itself to her. However, even though the first question was answered, I didn't feel the second one was very clear and I would have liked a bit more of an explanation as to why her? What made her so important, apart from the tampering with her genes? (And I wasn't exactly clear on where and when that happened - it just felt like an element tacked on to make her special).

I was completely fooled by the scenes with the soldier, as I'd had a whole lot of theories around him and what had happened that were blown clear out of the water because I'd made some assumptions, so that was done really well. And it was incredibly easy to connect emotionally with him, even if, by the end of the book, I'd lost quite a bit of sympathy. On the other hand, I could understand why he acted the way he did, even if I didn't agree with or condone it.

I do think there were too many characters who were glossed over and therefore, I wasn't sure who I was focused on. There were quite a few switches in POV, which meant that there was very little hidden; but also that the 'twists' didn't really work so well. And I did feel that the entire middle of the book, after receiving answers, alternately dragged and then rushed along with what little action there was.

I did find the ending didn't really fit with the rest of the book, primarily because there was character development I didn't see happening as a reader. I think this book would have benefitted from focusing more on just one or two POVs and setting up the secondary character twists a bit more.

I might be interested in reading a sequel to this book in the future, but I don't think I'll be re-reading this one any time soon.
93 reviews2 followers
August 16, 2020
Okay, I really wanted to like this one. And don't get me wrong, there is something there. There is a hint of what could be a very interesting book. I liked the character of Lex. I think I would've liked the setting, but it was barely present. This could've taken place completely on Earth without aliens and it would barely have to change.

It seems to draw a lot from Dune. And yet, it lacks the philosophical essence of what made Dune important.

There were hints of the setting, mention of multiple alien races. But in the end, none of that mattered. Earth joined some alien UN? Not important. Certain aliens took humans under their wing and sponsored them? Not important. There is this whole universe to explore and we don't explore it. But then, even though most of the book takes place in a single city on some far off planet, we don't really learn much about that city. What makes that city unique? Nothing really. It's just another city on just another planet.

If I were asked to give the author advice on how to rewrite this book, I would suggest it as a noir detective/private eye story. Explore the city through Lex's eyes. Explore the aliens, what makes them unique. What makes the city unique, the neighborhoods. Let her solve her mystery and then go on to solve more mysteries, take on cases. As it is it jumps from noir to Dune-light to bank heist? Cut the POV to mainly Lex. I would also suggest you cut out the questionable romances. Two different guys in their late twenties lusting after a teenage girl. Feels pretty icky.

On the plus side, there is a hint of an interesting setting, a hint of interesting characters, and the prose is simple and easy to read. I was able to follow what was going on, I never felt lost, and I always wanted to keep reading.

I also think it's important to support authors that are trying something new. Garcia hails from Trinidad, a place not known for sci fi authors.
Profile Image for C. Cornett.
Author 2 books1 follower
November 15, 2016
Really enjoyed this book on the whole! Comes off as a sort of CSI-meets-Mass-Effect thriller in the first half, then builds up into a Star Wars space opera in the second half. There's a lot of powerful imagery around how the main character shuts herself into amnesia, and then the moment she regains her memories, we get to relive them along with her, to see how things in the entire first half got the way they were. The way all the little details mesh and coalesce together felt particularly well done!

That said, there are also some very visceral and disturbing images in this book. Definitely recommended for mature readers only, for violence and a graphic rape scene. I'm not a fan of literary rape scenes, personally, but it fills a very important role in building the main character as a rape survivor by exploring how her mind was able to cope and how she was able to move on after the fact. The gritty urban space opera stuff is all just frosting on the cake here.

Docked a star for gay tragedy and psycho lesbian tropes, plus, c'mon Doctor, you're like 40 years old, keep it in your pants, buddy.

Still a powerful read.
Profile Image for Dan.
147 reviews
October 23, 2021
Loved the heroine

Very good. An exciting and compelling read because of the MC and good world building. Lex talionis means law of revenge (essentially an eye for an eye) which is one of the principles of a secret colony of genetically altered humans. They've broken away from their "creators" who basically treated them as slaves.
The h takes the name Lex Talionis when she wakes up with amnesia after essentially dying from the most horrific of attacks by a group of troopers. She goes on a rampage of revenge against her attackers as well as those responsible for her parents deaths. This story is unfinished, but the epilogue sets up for the next book (which doesn't exist as of 10/23/2021).
To this hard sci-fi enthusiast the paranormal aspects were mildly troubling (mind-links and empaths who can know what you're thinking by touching you, etc). But overall a very good read.
Profile Image for Kate Murray.
3 reviews4 followers
July 25, 2017
The story starts with a young woman waking up in a spaceport hospital with no memory of who she is, or how she came by her terrible injuries. All she remembers is ‘lex talionis’ – the law of revenge. We follow her journey as she slowly pieces together what happened to her, and finds out who she really is.

I loved the characters with multiple POVs threading the story together, the moments of pure suspense, the space opera-esque scale, the mystery that slowly unfolds in front of you. The aliens, the tech, the settings – this is a world that feels fully realised and is beautifully pictured on the page. I just love books where I can vividly picture the scene and this is one. A highly recommended read!
Profile Image for Emerson Andrews.
44 reviews
September 4, 2020
I came to this book because I loved her short story 'The Sun From Both Sides.' Make no mistake, R.S.A. Garcia is a talented author, but this book took some effort to get through. While there are some cool aspects to this novel, I felt like I never received the punch line. A majority of the text felt like it was building to a poignant moment where everything came together, but for me, the pay off missed its mark and it had me questioning why we spent time with certain characters, or why certain characters were included. I liked desolation, I liked the oux, I loved Lex, Anton, and Ru-ad, but the story as a whole never became more than the sum of its parts, and some parts could have been left behind all together.
Profile Image for Marla Anderson.
Author 5 books7 followers
April 29, 2019
This was an exciting read. Lex Talionis (an eye for an eye) is what she calls herself (until she remembers her true identity) and she's all about revenge. This bio-enhanced heroine is a trained soldier and definitely someone to fear. The book should come with a trigger warning, however, as the story revolves around a horrific gang rape that spurs her to take revenge in equally horrific ways. Despite that scenario, the book also has its tender moments and the main character is a fully realized three dimensional person. I thought the author did an excellent job at world building as well. I look forward to reading the next installment.
Profile Image for Sam (Hissing Potatoes).
546 reviews18 followers
November 17, 2019
I really enjoyed the complexity of the worldbuilding and the intriguing characters. The plotlines seemed to fragment at the end and there was a clear setup for a sequel, which I'd really love but unfortunately it doesn't look like it's been written yet. I did get confused in some parts, especially regarding Oux's role (it seemed to be more of a deus ex machina at times). Overall though, the book was a solid sci-fi with tons of action and even some seriously chilling horror elements near the beginning.
2 reviews
August 10, 2020
Brilliant. The author uses a device I have never seen used before; two battle scenes are interwoven by ending one narrative segment (Narrative A) partway through a sentence and then completing the sentence (in Narrative B) and so forth, weaving them so tightly together they become almost one. I’ve only been reading this stuff since 1956, so possibly it is a common practice, but I was floored by it’s effectiveness. The authors presentation of character development also seems very advanced for a debut novel.
Profile Image for Gale Albright.
2,051 reviews16 followers
July 24, 2020
I literally stumbled across this book by accident and am so grateful I did. It is a sci-fi hidden treasure as far as I am concerned. I picked up this book not expecting a lot and BAM I couldn’t read fast enough. From the first sentence I was hooked. The way this author put all three sections together was amazing and absolutely brilliant. I am anxiously anticipating the next book in this series! Exciting!!!
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