Reviewed: July 22, 2012
Genre: SciFi Romance
Series: Zodius, Book 1
Rating: 2 Stars
Length: 382 Pages
Formats: Print, eBook
Disclosure: This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
He's not human. Not anymore, anyway. Michael Taylor is one of the soldiers injected with alien DNA as part of a secret military project and scientific experiment intent on creating super soldiers, the perfect weapons. What it created, though, what Michael and others like him became, was more than anyone had expected.
Dr. Cassandra Powell isn't just the daughter of the general in command of the GTECH soldiers, she's been assigned to Project Zodius to study and evaluate the soldiers and the effects of their mutated DNA. She had no intention of getting personally involved with her subjects. She had no defense, however, for the intent and eerily powerful Michael.
They were drawn to each other, neither able to stay away. He thrilled her even as he made her nervous. She soothed him even as she stirred his blood. The mating mark and subsequent lifebond was the inevitable result of their affair.
Then Cassandra's world explodes when her father moves to imprison all the GTECHS who have tested positive for the X2 gene, a gene that seems to be connected to increased aggression and emotional instability. Problem is, the GTECH soldiers with the gene are less than keen on being imprisoned. In an angonizing instant, the X2-positive Michael is standing before her, her father's throat in his hand.
His support of the leader of the rebel soldiers, an evil and extremely aggressive GTECH named Adam, seems a heartbreaking reality. And on a whisper of the wind that speaks to him, he's out of her life. Has she been in love with traitor? Has Michael given in to the impulses of his mutated X2 gene and sided with evil against the country he's served so faithfully? And how can Cassandra survive the loss of him if he has?
I freely admit I'm a bit twisted, because when faced with a premise such as the one on which this series is based, I can't help but chuckle. See, I love reading a book about the debacles and disasters created by the combination of humanity's limitless arrogance and ignorance, especially when added to the Molotov cocktail of doom that is the incendiary mix of power and ego.
It's true. I do. And every time I come across one, I remember that line from Jurrassic Park which so aptly summed up the reason that movie was so damn terrifying:
"Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could they didn't stop to think if they should."
Yup. Give a few "brilliant" scientists a few strings of alien (or dinosaur) DNA, throw in a military-funded budget and at least one power-hungry egomaniac with a god complex, make sure remove all conscience, and of course they're going to try to create the ultimate soldier in the genetics lab equivalent of an Easy-Bake oven, with no concept or apparent concern for the long-term potential for badness. And man, there's always a lot of long-term potential for badness.
Soon as I read "alien DNA" I knew how this book was going to evolve and pegged several of the archetypal characters. I sat back, popped some popcorn, and prepared to enjoy the glorious devastation that was to come. And had this been slated solely as a science fiction novel, I probably would have ended up feeling more positive about what I read. I would still think the plot was a bit chaotic, but it could have been entertaining. Unfortunately, it also tried to be a romance, and in that it was a spectacular fail for me.
The romance between Cassandra and Michael was practically nonexistent, and I thought the timeline of their relationship was decidedly peculiar. Their presence in the story seemed to be limited by the overly ambitious plot. It hampered their characterization and crippled whatever emotional connection they had. And I'm so tired of the "I want him/her but I can't have him/her" mindset in the hero or heroine when it comes to romantic conflicts. It's never been a favorite theme of mine, but it feels like I can't open a book lately without stumbling across one or both main characters angsting themselves to death over that shit. I find it trite and boring.
The book had a great premise, and I love the concept for the series. This story and these characters, though, didn't work for me. There was so much plot crammed into the book and the world-building and setup were so immense that everything sort of degenerated into a chaotic jumble as the storyline progressed. And the romance was as good as not there. For me, it was all just a mess of too many characters, too many plot threads, too many conflicts, too little that consistently appealed...it was all just too much.
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