Ha! This story wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I still had a lot of fun with it. Jane is all woman, reveling in her sexuality as much as she revels in being a bounty hunter. Set in a far future where Earth no longer exists and pure humans are a thing of history books, Jane travels around the galaxy sweeping up criminals and getting paid handsomely to do it.
Her latest bounty comes with specific instructions. Jane likes the idea of the challenge and she takes off after Ash, a Phoenix. He’s got special powers that make it hard to keep him in custody. And Jane would love to have him in custody all right. He’s a handsome attractive man with muscles in all the right places. Sex is never far from Jane’s mind and while I found this amusing most of the time, sometimes I did role my eyes. I could have used a little more plot and little less innuendo.
Then there’s Jane’s skimpy steampunk outfit. We don’t get much description so it’s mostly left up to the reader’s imagination. Jane does use her curves and legs and other feminine attributes like a weapon… or a snare. While I’m all for using whatever you have to hand to get the job done or get yourself out of trouble, I do wish we could have seen some of her other skills in action.
Zula was a fun sidekick. She’s Jane’s second in command on the Pittsburgh and she’s a bit snarky with that high IQ of hers. There’s 2 other crew members (Masha and Tamzea) but we don’t get to know much about them. Perhaps that will change as the series moves forward.
The baddies for this book are the Denards. They have a thing for annihilating whole planets and whipping naked captives for personal satisfaction. I also hope the series expands on this alien species and their motives (as individuals or as a whole culture).
All told, it was a fun, fast paced action-packed scifi flick. While I would have liked a bit more on plot and character development, it was still entertaining. 4/5 stars.
The Narration: Ashley Holt has a unique cadence. Initially, I thought this was just a unique voice for Jane but Holt uses the same cadence for all her characters for the entire book. It reminded me a little of William Shatner’s unique cadence. Mostly she had unique voices for each character but sometimes the voices got a bit muddied and the clarity of who was saying or doing what was muddled. Her male voices were masculine. I did find the narration a bit slow as some syllables are stretched out for emphasis. So I did something I rarely do – I sped up the narration to 1.25X. The narration was much smoother at this speed and increased my enjoyment of the book. 3.5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Ashley Holt. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
The basic premise of this story pulled me right in. Take some Medieval LARPers and stick them in a biodome for decades and monitor how their society evolves. Now it’s 2 generations later and the grandchildren of those original LARPers are coming into their own. Willow and Leaf Watson just put their father, Joel, to rest in a grave and they have many questions about where their lives will go from here. Being the two oldest members of one of the reigning houses, they know they hold some power but are not sure what to do with it. Their young sister, Laurel, is still a child and unaware of what perils may befall their family.
Meanwhile, out in the real world with all it’s technology, the Game Master Hannley Nichols plots. The biodome was originally set up to study human psychology when a society is confined yet separate from the larger whole of humanity (as it would be on Mars or such). However, I wonder if his goals have changed over time or if he had ulterior motives all along. A good chunk of the world sees the biodome and it’s residents as entertainment and not a serious scientific study. Initially, Hannley was just a side character, but by the end of the book I had a real interest in him and what his story arc will be for the series.
The word ‘biodome’ makes me sit up and take notice. For many years now I have been fascinated with this concept and the limited number of actual biodome experiments that have been done. The concept definitely helped pull me into this story but I found that it wasn’t executed very realistically. A self-sustained, closed society needs a lot of cross over training and strong connections among it’s members to work. The regular, daily tasks that it takes to live in a Medieval-like society in a biodome were glossed over and I found the enforced gender roles to be unlikely to work in such a situation. Plus, if we ever do send a chunk of humans to Mars to set up a biodome, we will probably make sure they have quality medical knowledge. This group didn’t have that.
So, setting that quibble aside, I was initially interested in the main characters. Willow, who prefers to be called Oaklee (and never let us forget it), is almost 16 and boys are starting to look her way as a potential partner in marriage. However, she lets her emotions rule her. At first, this was a charming quality about her as everyone, even herself, acknowledges this and loves her anyway. As the story went on, though, I found myself tiring of her emotional tantrums, weeping, fainting, crying to the point her stomach aches, etc. Since she was the main female character, I really wanted more out of her.
Leaf is rather mild and not that memorable other than he is easily offended. Meanwhile, Fillion revels in offending people. So maybe Leaf and Fillion were made for each other. Fillion has been a bad boy and is sentenced to a kind of community service that puts him ever closer to the biodome inhabitants. I found his character inconsistent at times even as I enjoyed his cheek. On one had, he claims no woman has offered him true affection before yet in other scenes he bemoans the fact that so many women have thrown themselves at his feet. While many of those girls could have been star struck or inconsiderate fortune hunters, I expect there were a few that served up true affections.
Then there’s some connection between the Watsons and the Nichols that I don’t fully understand yet. Della, Fillion’s mom, was also involved with Joel Watson at some point. So does that make Fillion and his sister Lynden stepsiblings (or divorced stepsiblings?) to the Watson kids? I’m not sure. I felt I needed a little family tree.
The story also gives us some insta-love which isn’t my thing. I expected more out of the biodome inhabitants as they don’t seem to have any method for divorce so I would think that pairings would be made with plenty of consideration for actual love matches. There’s also a love triangle to contend with, and again, that’s not my thing. So I could have done without the romance in this story as it seems to be there just to add drama.
The ending had plenty of drama and some of it was good (like Fillion’s final fist fight) and some of it was silly (Willow’s emotional tantrum). There’s this bit of failed drama where Fillion assumes a false name. This doesn’t go over as planned and yet Willow is fooled… hmmm…. really? And that’s when I decided I really wanted some other main female character. Anyway, all around, the setting and plot hold potential for the next book in the series. 3.5/5 stars.
The Narration: Sunil Patel has a very enjoyable voice. It’s rich and clear and just makes me want to listen to him all day. However, his narration skills need a little polishing. There were a few mispronounced words but his French was good. I felt his Japanese was a bit rough. Also, he doesn’t really do distinct character voices. He did try to soften his voice for the female characters, but that wasn’t consistent either. Whenever Willow was yelling, she sounded just like her brother or Fillion. The biodome inhabitants are supposed to have a general British English accent, which Patel does well, but Fillion and Hannley and all the outsiders really sound just like biodomers in accent. The recording was OK but there are a few places where the volume goes up or the recording sounds a little rough. 3.5/5 stars.
I received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Jesikah Sundin. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.
I greatly enjoyed reading this one. Not only was the fantasy world written well and different, but the characters had excellent chemistry and the plot flowed to make the reading enjoyable and quick.
The world building is excellent and different. The story alternates in between with Jack and Jasminda’s point of view, but also there are some chapters that tell the background story of how their world was created. I enjoyed these alternating chapters. It provides better structure of the setting, it provides the mythology and a better understanding of the “True Father” and “The Queen who Sleeps”. It’s well written and everything comes together seamlessly.
The plot itself is also excellent. I love the concept of “Silents” and “Songbearers” and both are living side by side but marred by war and prejudice. And did you ever see the hate towards Jasminda throughout the book. You get angry at her treatment but Jasminda bears it and she does it well. The plot is pretty fast paced and it’s feels like a fast read - not to mention the fact that it’s very interesting. There’s a good mix of fantasy, action, and romance. What wasn’t really necessary was the Lizvette part. It made that aspect predictable and it didn’t really mesh well with what was going on with all the other things. It felt like it was placed there for filler reasons (I mean, we all know who Jack was going to go for a this point…)
Now for Jack and Jasminda.
I LOVED both of them together. They had this chemistry going on and you could feel it throughout the novel. It was heart wrenching in various parts of the book and you wanted to reach out to them and MAKE them go together (Jack you deserve some slaps of stupidity for some of the stuff you said). They’re both great characters and Jasminda’s development throughout the novel was excellent. Despite the changes she went through she didn’t lose her sass and her ferocious independence (love how this exasperates Jack by the way lol)
Definitely looking forward to the second book of this series! The ending was great (and I’m sure there’s way more battles to come)