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REVIEW:  Close Liaisons (The Krinar Chronicles) by Anna Zaires

REVIEW: Close Liaisons (The Krinar Chronicles) by Anna Zaires

CL

Dear Ms. Zaires:

I bought this book because a friend on Twitter was looking for a Sci-Fi book, and Katiebabs suggested this series. She characterized it as “cracktastic” which of course, was enough of a recommendation for me. Generally speaking, I’m probably not the intended audience for Sci-Fi romance. As with Steampunk, I tend to get bogged down in the technology and it distracts me from the story. While this was somewhat the case with this book, it was much more the hero that got my attention.

Mia Stalis is a grad student in New York. She’s a relatively non-descript, hard working kid who is generally overlooked, just because she works hard at not drawing attention to herself. One day while in Central Park, she draws the attention of a Krinar, an alien, named Korum. The Krinar are an alien species who now inhabit the Earth. It turns out that they are from a far away planet and were actually the creators of the human race, which they made in their image. Twenty years ago, they came to Earth, worried that humans were advancing too quickly, destroying Earth and its abundant resources. After K-Day, the day they invaded, and a short war where the human resistance was squashed, the K’s set up “Centers” where they lived and left humankind mostly to themselves. There are awful rumors about the K’s though. That they are vampires who feast on human blood and they’ve outlawed a number of things that mankind was doing (like eating meat) that could have harmed the life expectancy of mankind. But mostly, they are just the ruling class, scary and unknown, but generally leaving mankind alone.

Needless to say, Mia is both baffled and horrified that Korum would show even the vaguest interest in her. He flirts with her, but her responses are stilted. He’s the most beautiful man she’s ever seen, but she’s terrified of him and wants nothing more than to escape his notice and interest. No chance. Not only is Korum interested, but he’s captivated by her beauty and fiestiness that seems to rear its head any time she’s nervous. Given their obvious attraction to each other, Korum is interested in pursuing a sexual relationship with her. Mia is both terrified and elated at his interest. She can’t believe how attracted she is to him, but at the same time, she knows he’s a killer and she’s bound and determined to fight her overwhelming attraction. Korum decides to take it slow, as he knows Mia is a virgin. He explains that even though he really, really wants to, he’ll hold on having sex with her:

“But I’m not a rapist. And that’s what it would be right now – rape – because you’re so frightened of me, and of your own sexuality.”

What a guy. It’s so handy that she has him there to explain that it is in fact NOT her sheer terror that he might kill her that’s making her not want to sleep with him, but instead, it’s her discomfort with her own sexuality. Thank goodness we cleared that up.

Soon enough, they are involved and she agrees to have sex with him. Korum is apparently in possession of a…extraordinarily large appendage, and sex hurts Mia. She has no interest in having sex with him again after the first time and tells him as much. Korum tells her that she in fact will be having lots more sex with him because HE knows she’s attracted to him and wants him, even if she doesn’t. You see, he’s lived for a really long time (the result of all that healthy no meat eating stuff) and he knows that a “connection” like he and Mia have doesn’t come along very often. Despite Mia telling him over and over again that she has no interest in having sex or being in a relationship with him, in fact she tells him over and over that she hates him, he’s decided they will be in a relationship and there will be no more opinions or discussion from Mia on the topic.

And Mia basically acquiesces. On top of that, Mia scrapes her palms at some point during the story, and he heals her using nanotechnology, which puts a tracking device in her, so no matter where she goes, he knows where she is. Christian Grey wishes he had this guy’s stalking ability. He tracks her movements endlessly and shows up at one point to almost strangle to death a boy who shows interest in Mia. Because she’s his toy and no one else’s.

While they are starting their relationship, Mia’s roommate Jessie’s cousin and his friend come to see her. They are part of the Resistance. They are fighting against the K’s, along with the help of a small number of K’s who are sympathetic towards humans…or something. Anyway, the Resistance wants Mia to find out what Korum, who is a leader among his people (some sort of business tycoon), is up to. The friend, John, tells Mia that she’s Korum’s “charl”, his sex slave, and that she’s unlikely to her relationship with Korum, since he’s likely to kill her when he’s done using her for sex. John knows this because his sister disappeared a few years ago, and John knows she’s being kept in a Center, presumably as a sex slave. The Resistance knows if they can neutralize Korum, they have a chance of winning. At first, they just ask Mia for information, but soon they give her a ring that will pull all of the information he has in his palm computer (a literal computer in his palm) so that they have the blue prints to the K’s largest center – sort of like a capital. Even though she’s torn about it, Mia agrees, and seduces Korum, and gets the information from him. She supplies it to the Resistance, but stipulates (probably because she’s got a raging case of Stockholm Syndrome) that Korum is going to receive safe passage back to his home planet. The Resistance agrees (even though Mia hasn’t thought far enough ahead to figure out what will happen when Korum just jumps back on a space ship and comes back to Earth) and they opt to move on the center.

To no one’s surprise, Korum knew EVERYTHING Mia was doing. Why? Probably because Mia is the most obvious spy ever, but also because besides being a well hung tiger in the sack, he’s way smarter than she’ll ever be. Anyway, the Resistance is defeated, Korum is victorious, and he decides that Mia is in so much danger, she can’t go to stay with her family in Florida, she must come to Costa Rica with him where she’ll be safe. Because at this point, Mia has realized that she was very wrong for ever doubting Korum’s motives or anything else, she agrees. The book ends with the two getting off his ship in Costa Rica.

There are two other Volumes in this series. None of which I’ll be reading. This book had issues galore for me. Not the least of which was the fact that the hero starts off an overbearing douchebag, and never ceases being one. The entire time, I kept wondering why Mia would decide to be with him. Except, I knew why, because she was terrified of him. Even at 80% through the book, she positive he is going to kill her. At no time does he express more than warm feelings towards her. He does care for her by buying her new clothes and insisting that she do what he tells her, and sexing her up in various and sundry positions, but generally speaking, he treats her like a housepet. These are two of the most unlikable characters I’ve read in a while.

The worldbuilding is quite good. While I couldn’t exactly picture some of the technology you described, for the most part, I understand the general principles of world’s mythology and was able to suspend disbelief enough to follow the story. I think that you have a gift for writing interesting sex scenes, although the entire cervix ramming and giant appendages part struck me was unnecessary, painful, and overkill. I also think that you have a very confident authorial voice. I thought the book was really well edited and I can understand why so many readers would call this series “cracktastic”. While it didn’t work for me, I get why the book might really work for other readers. For me, I’ll just have to live with never knowing what happens next to Korum and Mia. Final grade: D.

Kind regards,
Kati

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REVIEW:  Cress by Marissa Meyer

REVIEW: Cress by Marissa Meyer

Cress Marissa MeyerDear Ms. Meyer:

I love science fiction and I love fairy tales. Both loves go back a long way. All the way, really. Put them together and, if it’s done well, I am the happiest of happy campers. The Lunar Chronicles have such a brilliant concept. Four (yay for quartets) books, each set in Meyer’s fictional and futuristic Earth, each focusing on a heroine from a well-known fairy tale. From Cinder and Scarlet to Cress and the upcoming Winter, I’ve loved the covers, I’ve loved the titles, and I’ve loved the smart and inventive ways in which these stories have had new life breathed into them. I did wish for a little more emotional payoff in the first book, but Cinder herself was such a highlight that there were no questions about whether or not I would be reading the second. Then Ms. Meyer went and wrote Scarlet and launched me into full-fledged fangirl status. I wouldn’t change a single thing about that book, people. Not one. So my anticipation for Cress was just a wee bit on the high side. We get the tiniest of snatches of Cress herself in the first two books, and given how much I loved the first two heroines, I felt pretty sure my love for this orbiting computer hacker would be something of a foregone conclusion.

Cress has spent the last seven years shut up tight in an orbiting satellite. Her solitude is broken only by the occasional terrifying visit from Miss Sybil, the Lunar Queen’s henchwoman sent to monitor Cress. With years and years of nothing but her netscreens to keep her company, Cress not only becomes a considerably talented computer hacker, but she develops a pretty substantial romanticized view of Earth, its inhabitants, and especially the noted rascal Captain Carswell Thorne. Most recently, Cress has been tasked with putting her hacking skills to use tracking down the most wanted Earthen criminal: the cyborg rebel Linh Cinder. Having had her own secret contact with Cinder and her band of motley rebels, Cress is instantly dismayed and sets about working as hard as she can to deflect Queen Levana’s sights from Cinder’s actual location. For their part, Cinder, Wolf, Scarlet, and Iko are careening about space trying to avoid capture and work out a plan to save the world from the encroaching Lunar threat. But Cress can only do so much, trapped as she is. And when Cinder’s ship, the Rampion, is spotted, the two groups are set on a literal collision course. In the aftermath, the dashing and derelict Thorne and Cress herself wind up crashing to Earth in the smoking remains of the only home Cress has ever known. And so it is up to them to trek through the wilderness and try to find their way back to Cinder and Co. in time to stop the unholy wedding of the century before Levana weds Emperor Kaito and closes her wicked fist over Earth for good.

It’s difficult to say I wasn’t enchanted with this one, but that is the bare truth of the matter. It was all set up to be a knockout installment in the series, but nothing. ever. happens. Until the end when the inevitable Rescue Poor Kai mission is finally set in motion and events begin trundling along nicely. But Cress is one thick book (a trait I usually love in novel), and it takes far too long to get to the meat. Most of that time is spent trudging with the hapless Cress and Thorne through the Sahara Desert, an expanse of time and space that could have been put to good use developing their relationship, which naturally had a lot of potential. Instead, it was a numbing eternity of the naïve and incapable Cress mooning over Thorne and wailing at each bump in the road. And Thorne. Wherefore art thou, dude? You were the perfect scoundrel in Scarlet, a delightful combination of Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds. But the Thorne of Cress was a watered down buffoon at best. He was given a couple of truly winsome and hilarious lines, a far cry from the leading man I felt justified in looking forward to. Together they lacked all of the spark, paling in comparison to the serious sweetness of Cinder & Kai and the deep swoon of Scarlet & Wolf. It was honestly a relief to be pulled away from their uninspiring exploits to find out what was happening with Cinder and the gang, although I couldn’t help but sigh more than once at how little page time Scarlet and Wolf were given. In that instance, I understand the game is afoot and we must work our way through some plot twists in order to achieve the necessary series climax in the next book. But still. Their relative absence was harsh for this Scarlet-loving girl’s heart.

Romantic subplot(s) aside, I just never engaged with Cress, the book or the character. The creeptastic Levana was all but absent. The exciting and long-awaited knock-down brawl and (hopefully) makeup fest that has been brewing between Cinder and Kai since the end of Cinder was wedged too tightly into the literal last couple of pages. The timing and pacing felt decidedly off in general, uncharacteristically so. I don’t know if the onus of that rests on the fact that Cress herself wasn’t up to the challenge of carrying off a whole book on her own or if it was a dose of third-book syndrome or what. But it was a struggle to finish. I did finish, hoping all the way that meat would grow on the bones before my very eyes. I still like each of the main characters (Cinder’s irrepressible android sidekick Iko made me laugh on more than one occasion), and the glimpse of the certifiably crazy Winter near the end gives me hope for the final installment. But it’s going to have to be one hell of a strong finish to wash the disappointment out of my mouth after Cress. C-

Cheers,

Angie

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