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Nalini Singh |
|Release Date:||Jun 2010|
|Number of Pages:||368|
|Price in AUD:||$19.99|
In a world that denies emotions, where the ruling Psy punish any sign of desire, Sascha Duncan must conceal the feelings that brand her as flawed. To reveal them would be to sentence herself to the horror of 'rehabilitation' - the complete psychic erasure of her personality... Both human and animal, Lucas Hunter is a Changeling hungry for the very sensations the Psy disdain. After centuries of uneasy co-existence, these two races are now on the verge of war over the brutal murder of several Changeling women. Lucas is determined to find the Psy killer who butchered his packmate and Sascha is his ticket into their closely guarded society. But he soon discovers that this ice-cold Psy is very capable of passion - and that the animal in him is fascinated by her. Caught between their conflicting worlds, Lucas and Sascha must remain bound to their identities - or sacrifice everything for a taste of darkest temptation…
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Having seen the Author’s name, and knowing of her following among the Galaxy Bookshop Paranormal Romance readers group I picked up this book hoping for a ‘meet you half way’, sort of Science Fictional paranormal Romance type book, or at least a book by a Writer with some SF street cred. The book also claims to be a New York Bestseller, as is ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’, further rousing my curiosity, so I started to read it in the hope of encountering a novel interpretation of Science Fiction, with added ‘Changeling’, Crime and Romance elements.
It started well, set in a future ruled by a powerful, genetically select and dispassionate elite, opposed or rivalled by people of an extremely opposite personality, but that is about as good as it got. The story’s set-up is something that can be described very briefly. She is a PSy, a Cardinal, ‘Princess’ of her cold and emotionless people with a self-destructive complex over her ‘weakness’, which is that to say that she has feelings and emotional needs. He is an Alpha Were Leopard (What, from Africa or something?), a leader of his people, a walking, talking, throbbing male sex object. Compelling male ‘pussy’ indeed! We know this because we are repeatedly told this every few pages after an exposition of their tortured feelings, which comprise a disturbingly large part of this book. They first meet on opposite sides of a negotiating table over proposed megabuck housing development deal (really, how Sydney!) between their respective economic interest groups, and they proceed to go off like a sexually charged cracker, no dawdling about with the usual ‘could she, would she, will she’ etc. Her only doubts are about how long she can stay alive by covering her ‘faults’ from the other inhabitants of the psy network, a sort of psychic internet/facebook system backed by a mind erasing thought crime prison system.
His motivation in doing this property deal, it emerges, is to get into the head of someone on who is the psy internet, via bed if necessary, to discover the identity of a serial killer of changeling women (death and torture by 79 cuts) who the changeling community correctly believes to being shielded by the psy powers that be. So, the basis of this story is a crime procedural, with a network / database to be cracked, and a dark powerful figure brought down by an unlikely ‘odd couple’ team, only they really aren’t a mismatched or ‘odd couple’ at all. They are mutually in lust from the first scene, and the writer vainly strains to make them an ‘odd couple’ by repeatedly representing the cultures from which they come as being total opposites in temperament and ‘family values’, while each individual is hardly typical of their tribe at all. And so it goes, a minimal plot on the way to resolution of the crime, lots of time spent telling us that they are so very different, while their actions stress their similarities, and equally large amounts of time are spent describing their mutual ‘hots’ for each other, while off stage a changeling woman is being held captive and tortured by a fiend for the best part of a week. So, as a Crime caper it is poor stuff and very unsettling. Innovation – proxy (safe sex!) via mutual and self-aware wet dreaming!
Conclusion – Well at least I now have some understanding of this sort of book, even if I am greatly under whelmed by this specific instance. This book seriously fails as a ‘SF’ book. It is set in a future 100 years hence where there has been no noticeable change in technology, ‘ordinary’ people non-psy or non-were seem not to exist know a bit . Both of these could have been explained to good effect, the consequences of psy domination etc. or some other equally SF reason. Accepting the suspension of disbelief needed to allow ‘psy’ and changelings to exist, surely if such things were ‘real’, given 100 years duration surely mundane science would have figured out how it works and how it could be scientifically re-produced at will ? It would have worked so much better if this story was set in the present, with the psy and changeling communities both as clandestine powers behind the scenes etc.
Recommendation – Who to recommend this book to, clearly adults only as the Sex scenes are frequent and explicitly detailed, even if presented as dream sex. But the odd thing to me was that they seem to be described mostly from the male perspective, i.e. what she does to him, what he feels ...., what he then does to her ...., so should these passages ‘inform’ male or female readers?
The greatest defect as I see it, that forces me to describe this as an ‘incomplete’ novel, is that the storyline is defective and frequently provokes disbelief rather than provides insights into a psy/changling mythos. The sex scenes? I expect there are better and more insightful sex scene writers about. Personally, I think this book could have benefitted greatly from some pre-publishing editing, but I have to accept that this sort of thing sells, so it must be agreeable to an audience, but not those looking for some Science Fictional paranormal romance.
ISBN 978-0-5750-9566-3 Slave to sensation (a psy changling Novel) by Nalini Singh (NZ writer) © 2006, 334 pages, 24 mm
Read Aug. 28 to Sep. 01 - to be published in TBS&E No 50/51