Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Immersed by Liz Craven

TITLE: Immersed
AUTHOR: Liz Craven
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 57k)
GENRE: Sci-fi romance
COST: $4.50

In her latest assignment, healer Ilexa Dhakir has been placed amongst the Hakimu, the clan of her brother’s best friend. Thane also happens to be the man she’s been in love with since she was a child. Thrust into the middle of a society she knows nothing about, she’s forced to rely upon Thane for guidance, but her independent spirit and need to heal don’t always make that easy…

As much as I loved the first book in this series and looked forward to reading the second, it’s taken me quite a while to actually finish it. I’ve started, stopped, and restarted this book four separate times over the past year, and each time, just couldn’t get involved enough to keep going. I slogged through this last time, and while it did improve from the beginning that just couldn’t grab me, it never quite reached the same heights the first book did for me.

Both Ilexa and Thane were introduced in the first book, as the sister and best friend of the hero. Here, the spark between them finally gets to catch, but it’s a slow burn. Ilexa is thrust into tribal life without any indoctrination about custom and muddles things almost from the start. Thane is suitably alarmed and tries to help, but he’s in constant conflict about his desire for Lex and his sense of duty to her brother. They struggle to find some kind of balance between her need to help, and their mutual attraction, and what unfolds is a world just as fully realized, and still different, as what was presented in the first book. The details of this clan, with its primitive beliefs in the midst of high technology, are rich and fascinating, almost more so than those in its predecessor, and my continued interest in their society was the driving force that finally got me sucked into the story. I was far more intrigued by the various political machinations than I was Ilexa and Thane’s romance, but through time and the eventual forward momentum of the action, I came to care more for what was happening between them.

I think part of my problem stems from the characterizations. Thane seems all too familiar to me as a reader, an archetype that perhaps I’ve read too much of lately with not enough to truly make him stand out. Ilexa actually had far greater depth, strong and independent, but one aspect never settled well with me. She left her home planet to volunteer in a medical exchange program, and did so much to the worry of her family. Everybody said she’d lost her spirit, that she appeared as if something truly traumatic had happened to her. Thane comments on it more than once throughout the story. When the explanation is finally given, it was very anticlimactic. I didn’t understand how it could justify such an extreme reaction on her part, especially since she supposedly suffers from the same symptomology. Because I could never resolve that disparity to my own satisfaction, I ended up dissociating from her more as the story progressed.

I didn’t necessarily feel a romantic sense of “Ah…” when the book ended, but the satisfaction in seeing how the Hakimu evolved and came together more than compensated for it. I know the next book is supposed to be about another of Ilexa’s brothers, but I almost wish it was more about this particular world. I’d love to know who ends up giving birth to the Malkine, and how Ilexa comes to influence it, but those stories, it seems, will likely have to live in my imagination.


8/10 – A constant forward momentum helps keep the reader engaged, though I found it less involving than the first book


7/10 – Alpha and sexy, if not entirely consistent


7/10 – Strong and independent, but it felt like her reasons for leaving her home never measured up to how far she had supposedly fallen

Entertainment value

7/10 – A solid read, but not nearly as good as the first book

World building

9/10 – The juxtaposition of Ilexa’s experiences with Thane’s homeworld is the book’s greatest strength



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