REVIEW: Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
Dear Ms Singh,
Perhaps the praise I’d already heard about your book colored my expectations. Maybe the larger than usual number of shapeshifting books I’ve read recently has filled me with ennui. While I liked much of “Slave to Sensation,” it didn’t wow me.
Sascha Duncan is a member of the Psy race. Years ago, in an effort to reduce the level of violence in the Psy community, the Council decided to begin a program to eliminate emotions. After several generations, the conditioning is complete. Psy operate on logic and practicality. They feel nothing. They feel that this makes them superior to humans and changelings who are ruled by emotions. Changelings, of course, feel differently.
Lucas Hunter is the alpha of the DarkRiver leopard pack. Shrewd, powerful and cunning, he intends to use the joint real estate development project he and the Duncan family are working on to further a secret aim. There is a serial killer on the loose who is preying on changeling women and Lucas needs an “in” into the Psy community to hunt him. He’s hoping to use Sascha to learn anything he can to nail the killer. After a few meetings with her, he’s convinced she’s not a usual Psy.
Sascha also realizes she’s not normal. For years she’s tried to develop her mental abilities to rise in the rigid Psy hierarchy. Now she just wants to fly below the radar, so to speak, and avoid revealing that she’s feeling emotions. Any Psy caught doing that is sentenced to a brainwashing session that leaves them mindless husks left with only enough mental ability to sweep floors and wipe away the drool. But with Lucas pushing her and her ruthless mother and other council members watching her closely, it’s getting harder by the day to conceal the cracks in her mental facade. Time is also running out for Lucas. A werewolf changeling woman has been abducted and if the killer isn’t found for the wolves to wreck vengeance on, widespread civil war could erupt, destroying civilization.
I was impressed with the Psy world building. It’s new and interesting and you’ve obviously put a lot of thought into it. Sascha’s trip into the PsyNet (a kind of mental Internet) was amazing. What I didn’t need was to have many aspects of the world and the Psy community repeated ad nauseam. I understand Sascha can’t reveal emotion, I know the council is ruthless, I know what awaits Sascha if she’s found out. And while you thoroughly explain the DarkRiver leopard pack, there’s really nothing new here as far as pack structure or dynamics. And I certainly didn’t need elements of it (Lucas’s tragic childhood and early rise to pack leader) repeated as well. I know this is your book and your reality but do leopards even have pack structures? I will give you major bonus points for avoiding a lot of mental lusting and for slowly developing the heat between Lucas and Sascha. Talk about wet dreams! But then Lucas has to go all dominant on Sascha and turns a tad overbearing.
Balancing what I liked and didn’t like I’d give “Slave to Sensation” a B-