Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Michelle Diener - Dark Deeds

Fiona Russell has been snatched from Earth, imprisoned and used as slave labor, but nothing about her abduction makes sense. When she's rescued by the Grih, she realizes there's a much bigger game in play than she could ever have imagined, and she's right in the middle of it.
Battleship captain Hal Vakeri is chasing down pirates when he stumbles across a woman abducted from Earth. She's the second one the Grih have found in two months, and her presence is potentially explosive in the Grih's ongoing negotiations with their enemies, the Tecran. The Tecran and the Grih are on the cusp of war, and Fiona might just tip the balance.
Fiona has had to bide her time while she's been a prisoner, pretending to be less than she is, but when the chance comes for her to forge her own destiny in the new world she's found herself in, she grabs it with both hands. After all, actions speak louder than words. 

Comment: This is the second book in the Class 5 trilogy by author Michelle Diener. I liked the first book a lot and I was quite eager to try the sequels which means I was really looking for to start this second book. Thankfully, it was as interesting.

In this second book we have pretty much the same sort of plot as in the first story, but with the difference that now the Grih and other species know who and what a being like Fiona is.
Fiona has been kidnapped from Earth, she has been treated as a slave so when a ship comes and collides with the one she's in, she thinks it might be her chance of escape. However, those who come on board don't seem very friendly and they barely help her. Those run away and another ship comes too, in this case looking for the one that had recently left. Now the Grih and there and the ship's captain, Hal Vakeri, recognizes Fiona and the fact she's alike Rose, the previous rescued human woman in the galaxy.
But Fiona's presence means something is more dangerous and troublesome that everyone thought, even more so when Fiona herself is linked and helped by a Class 5 as well... will story repeat itself with another human woman too?

Although this can structurally be read as a stand alone book, it's certainly much better appreciated if the first one is read previously because there are many details and references that make sense now if the reader has the information already. Overall, I liked this story but one key detail (fo me at least) could have been done differently.

I think the best feature of this novel - probably the whole series, if one considers what I've read so far and the likeliness of the third being similar - is the creativity that went to imagine such a world. the worlds have enough details to make them look rich and alive and the beings that populate the worlds aren't as different from the humanoid shape but offer interesting elements. 
The author has clearly thought about this a lot and this sci/fy world is structured well, in a way we can envision it somehow.
Most of the action takes place in spaceships so things are relatively contained but even so, there is a lot of technical details and working devices to give the impression everything is as technologically detail as desired. I liked this notion the world is a living organism of sorts.

The characters of this book weren't as amazing or - to me - as likable, though.
I found both Fiona and Hal too distant to being people I would care a lot and their inner monologues and characterization felt insufficient. I struggled a bit to sympathize with them, Fiona especially.
Fiona is a human woman captured, made slave, she is in a completely different reality and while I feel appreciative of her keeping her cool in a situation she wouldn't be able to control, her way of dealing with things felt rather mechanical and difficult to accept. I don't mean to say she should have wept more something but to quickly adjust just felt unrealistic.
As for Hal, he is a likable hero but I think he wasn't done as well as he could and I feel I didn't get to know him enough to fully care for him.
Their romance was also not very believable or, at least, their connection and attraction didn't feel particularly strong in terms of chemistry. It lacked romance and romantic scenes.

This brings me to my biggest question about these novels, I really think there is a high focus on the world politics and technical elements in detriment to the personal and social interactions.
Perhaps the author wanted to give credibility to her novels and make them broader in terms of target audiences' preferences but to me there is an obvious lack of reality in a situation that puts people kidnapped ans enslaved in an alien culture/world. I wanted more of the women's struggles to adapt, to understand, to adapt to a new reality, to fully "mourn" the loss of their planet... I wanted more social interactions, more details about the worlds they see themselves in now, even if only the hierarchy of a space ship.
The story is interesting, it's engaging and I did feel like reading and when I put the book down I wanted to get back to it but...it just wasn't detailed in the way I imagined it could.

All in all, still a strong sci/fy story, still filled with incredible things and scenes but not to the point I imagined this sequel would include.
I hope the third is better but I hope that it's in part alike these two in plot and overall ideas.
Grade: 7/10

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