Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Rex Rising (Chrystalla Thoma)

Rex Rising
(The Elei's Chronicles series, Book 1)
Chrystalla Thoma
Amazon Digital Services
Fiction, YA Sci-Fi
** (Bad)

DESCRIPTION: For generations, the World of the Seven Islands has suffered beneath the Gultur regime. Created by a parasite, one of many infesting the Seven Islands, the all-female Gulturs are strong, smart, and half-mad... and now, they're slowly moving to exterminate the "lesser" humans. The resistance group known as the Undercurrent fights them, but so long as the parasite Regina that created the Gultur remains undefeatable, their efforts are doomed to failure. Legend tells of a "sleeping king," a parasite capable of matching or even overwhelming Regina, but those few brave enough to seek it die by Gultur force.
Elei was found in a garbage heap as a boy, dying from one of the many deadly, mutating parasites of the Seven Islands. His life saved by another parasite, he eventually found his way off of the streets and into a job as driver for Pelia, a scientist secretly working for the Undercurrent. But she was betrayed, gunned down by her own people. Wounded and alone, clinging to a name and address Pelia gave him in her final moments, Elei becomes a hunted boy. Pelia was working on a cure for Regina, and was rumored to have actually found the legendary Rex parasite - and both the Gultur and the Undercurrent will do anything to discover where she hid it.

REVIEW: I hate books about unpleasant people in unpleasant places doing unlikeable things. Unfortunately, I was sucked in by the promising premise: parasites capable of remaking humans into specialized races to propagate themselves. Thus, I found myself picking my way through a filthy world, following a main character who spent more than half the book incapacitated by injury or illness or his own relentless pessimism (not to mention basic stupidity), helpfully lugged around by other characters who inexplicably didn't write him off as deadweight. I lost track of how many neon-bright clues Elei repeatedly ignored, too mired in his own selfish misery to pay attention to the world around him... though that world was so thoroughly unpleasant a place to be that I couldn't entirely blame him for not caring about its fate. Nobody trusts anyone, here, a pall of paranoia echoing the atmosphere of moral decay and hopeless oppression (not to mention some backhanded sexism - the evil, corrupt all-woman race exterminating men as unnecessary, which needs a masculine force to overwhelm it lest it do more damage to the world) that lays thick over the entire world. Speaking of the World of the Seven Islands, Thoma makes up many words, many of which seem little more than "smeerps" (invented words for otherwise mundane things just to sound otherworldly), then goes on to have characters wear polo shirts and jeans in a world that appears to have neither polo nor cotton. Was this supposed to be a post-apocolyptic Earth, then, or just another world that invented sports-based fashion while lacking the sport that inspired it? Being Book 1 of a series, naturally large portions of the mytharc were left up in the air. By the end, I still didn't care about anyone or anything in the book; I just wanted it to be over.

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