Thursday, June 14, 2018

Rebecca Zanetti - Shadow Falling

Before the Scorpius Syndrome tore through North America and nearly wiped out the population, Vivienne Wellington was the FBI’s best profiler. The bacteria got her anyway. But she survived. She recovered. And when she woke up from a drug-nightmare of captivity, her skills as a hunter of men had gone from merely brilliant to full-on uncanny.
Her mysterious rescuer wants her to put them to the test. But no matter how tempting he is, with his angel’s eyes and devil’s tongue, Vinnie knows she shouldn’t trust him.
If the FBI were still around they would rate Raze Shadow as one of the bad guys. His military training can’t wipe out his association with the Mercenaries, the most feared gang in a thousand miles. His loyalties are compromised. He won’t even tell Vinnie his real name. But there’s no FBI in the new America of fear and firepower, only instinct and risk. And the way his arms wrap around Vinnie tells its own story. Whatever else Raze is concealing, he can’t hide his desire . . .

Comment: This is the second installment in the Scorpius Syndrome series by author Rebecca Zanetti. I confess I was surprised by having enjoyed the first book in the series because the setting is an apocalyptic world devastated by a virus that killed most of the human population in North America and those who haven't died have turned into sociopaths or were changed somehow. Very few survived the virus and few less haven't been infected.
I usually avoid these scenarios because I can't help but thinking it would focus too much on the negative aspects and how could a HEA really work out but...I'm glad I was proven wrong.

In this second adventure we have the focus on Vivienne Wellington, a woman who used to work as a profiler of sociopaths and serial killers for the FBI. Vinnie has been caught by the ripper (an intelligent sociopath - opposed to those who can't focus) who now is the President but at the end of last book she was rescued by Raze Shadow, a mercenary who then joined the Vanguard.
Raze has wanted to be part of a community again for a long time and he recognizes in the Vanguard a place where he can be useful and feel worthy, same as Vinnie, but he also has a secret agenda about betraying her. However, with time passing and situations developing unexpectedly, will he be able to go with it, especially after realizing Vinnie means too much for him to let her go?

Usually, I prefer novels where we can have a broad sense of the world building, the settings, of everything that surrounds the characters and the places where they live/work/interact, etc.
In this case, because the world out there has been affected so terribly, it's actually interesting to focus on small communities and how they must be ruled in order to work properly for everyone. 
I think this aspect has worked out pretty well and this surprised me. We could have a very claustrophobic scenario but thankfully it isn't so and I believe it has helped me to imagine a wider setting.

As for the plot in this second story, again, I was positively surprised. I liked how we were able to have a good sense of the characters' movements, their tasks, their daily interactions... there was also a certain situation in this book that wasn't completely solved but which allowed for an interesting social situation to be explored. I think the author has thought about possibly realistic situations that might arise n such a scenario and she inserted one of them quite well here. However, part of me would have preferred it to be solved more firmly, without much room for second doubts (which I assume might be reason for further conflicts).
I also liked how more characters were introduced and we now have the idea of which paths might be taken in the following books to make the plot move forward. I'm curious about how the new characters will be placed in contact with the ones we already knew.

There's a romance, of course. Vinnie and Raze have a very quick development in their relationship. One could debate on the emotional aspect of involving oneself in such dire circumstances and making it work but this aspect is obviously enhanced for plot reasons. I still think every romance happens a bit too quickly, even bearing in mind adversity, life is short and so on. But the couple's interactions make for it a bit and I liked how they trusted each other about their inner thoughts and feelings somehow, even if not in the best way they could have, were the situation different.

I was quite eager to keep reading. I don't think this is the best story ever but it was compelling for me, mostly because I wanted to see the characters interact in such a scenario. More than the problems with their enemies (which I understand why exist but could do without), what I want to see is the human behavior, the expectations, the way the characters deal with normality in such a abnormal world.
It was also great to see the characters - mainly the women - put their knowledge and intelligence to use for the goodness of the groups and to find help and necessary things.
I'll keep on reading the series...
Grade: 8/10

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