The time and place
The future, on a habitable planet unknown to the protagonists
The suspension of disbelief
Space travel exists. Humanity found it could breed with a species of alien it found called the Zh Cle’. Said aliens have some insectoid features, which made some humans totally freak out and start genetically engineering ‘perfected’ humans (called Puregens) to keep up with the half-breeds. Now those not Puregen are discriminated against and not allowed on some worlds.
The quick summary
Reality television in space! Two prisoners with minor transgressions are teamed up for the Survival Game show. If they win, they get their freedom and some money. Gema is a vagrant and Kellac a Puregen military officer. Despite their vast differences in social station, they get along well as they deal with their growing attraction. Then the production team crashes and all the contestants are stranded. How do Gema and Kellac survive, and can their relationship survive a return to civilization?
The concept of the reality show and its horrible rules and surveillance is a great setup. I enjoyed hating the Game Master, the little camera drones, the yucky tactics our protagonists had to deal with. I liked that they were penalized for being decent people, because that’s my experience of elimination-reality shows. Kellac is a stand-up person.
Kellac’s attraction to Gema was a bit strange to me at first, suggesting that Puregen people were not societally conditioned to find attractiveness in what they engineered to be the best humans. However, he does explain that when everyone looks beautiful in a similar way, that standard of beauty isn’t much of a draw. She is different than the women he’s used to, and he finds that fascinating. I like it when books explore concepts of otherness and feeling apart from society.
Although I didn’t see any spelling errors, I found copy editing mistakes. There are plenty of commas missing. When I notice an editing issue, I lose the story and have to engage myself again.
I found it difficult to immerse myself in the book, and I can’t completely explain why. Time felt a little disjoint near the end, and the structure felt like it could be tightened or the pace faster. Two important side characters do not make an appearance until late in the book, so it was difficult for me to make a connection to them.
Read if you
- Love Survivor-type reality shows
- Think it’s time the bug aliens get some love and sympathetic treatment
- Are interested in disability and speciesism issues
Skip if you
- Want an ensemble cast
- Prefer on-ship in-space action with lasers: space opera vs. planetary romance, if you will
Disclosure and final thoughts
I won this book in a raffle and review this book unsolicited as a token of appreciation for the author’s generosity to the community.
Author site: melisseaires.blogspot.com