Friday, January 13, 2012

Fractured by Sandra Sookoo

TITLE: Fractured
AUTHOR: Sandra Sookoo
PUBLISHER: Liquid Silver Books
LENGTH: Novella (roughly 35k)
GENRE: Futuristic sci-fi erotic romance
COST: $5.25

Major Rick Keenan is on his way back to Earth from his very last mission before getting stuck in a desk job when his shuttle is trapped by a tractor beam on one of Saturn’s moons. When one of his crewmen is captured while in search of crystals they need, he sets off on a rescue, only to discover he’s been taking prisoner to be food by an alien female who needs his blood to survive. Rick agrees to trade places with his crewman, in hopes that he can broker some kind of relationship between their species, but he quickly finds out it might not go as he intends…

My son is in love with Once Upon a Time, which means I’ve been exposed to a lot of fairytales recently. When I saw this was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, I decided to give it a go. Unfortunately, while the premise is interesting, the characters don’t live up to their potential.

All of his life, Rick has wanted to explore the stars and meet alien races. With the space program about to be dismantled, however, he’s on his very last mission. At least until he and his shuttle are trapped on one of Saturn’s moons. One of his crew goes out in search of items they need to take off again, but when he calls in a distress signal, Rick does what he has to and goes off to rescue him. He finds him prisoner of an alien female, one with fangs and bloodthirst, who needs the man for food. Rick barters a trade – his life for his crewman’s – and ends up in the unique position to try and find some sort of peace between humans and this strange alien. Marin hates humans, since they’re responsible for the Cleansing and the scattering of her species, but Rick seems different. Her lonely existence is eating her up, and though she won’t admit it, she is desperate for a change. Rick seems like the perfect opportunity for that.

The fact that the fairy tale has been reversed, with the heroine as the Beast, was a great starting point for this story, but for me, it never really got off the ground. Part of it came with some early proofing mistakes (She'd been taught that only members of her own race could make her feels thus, for instance) that jerked me out of the reading experience. It’s a peeve, it really is, but I wanted to like this so much that I stuck with it. Though the rest of the prose is certainly competent enough, the spark I needed from either one of the two leads never managed to materialize. Marin had the potential to be interesting, but her erratic moods wore on me quickly. Rick, on the other hand, bored me. His reactions throughout the beginning and most of his imprisonment were rational and realistic, but that was about it. I never really got what was so special about him, other than being told Marin was attracted to him.

Other awkward aspects that hindered the reading experience included a couple flashbacks that were meant to give some history about Rick, but jolted me out of the moment with frantic searches back in the story to determine what the year header meant in terms of the continuity. It was clumsy, and with the passages so short, felt pointless. I couldn’t help but wonder if the information they were meant to convey couldn’t have been passed along in some other way. An epilogue that happens when there isn’t really a resolution to the story yet (except for declarations) felt even odder, especially since it was divided into two sections, one taking place three months later. The first half of it was actually the real resolution of the story, which for me means it should be part of the story, not part of the epilogue. The epilogue would’ve had much more of an impact had it just been contained to the three months later segment.

One bright spot was the care taken in creating Marin’s species. I could see her clearly, and felt like I understood how her kind had reached the point it had. It would’ve been nice to see the same care taken with the rest of the world-building, but with so much of the story contained to the confinement, this isn’t so much a flaw as it is an annoyance.

I can’t recommend this book except to fans of the author or those who might fare better than I did with the two leads.


7/10 – Early errors in proofreading almost made me stop, though the rest of the prose is fairly innocuous


5/10 – Realistic reactions, though he didn’t charm me at all


5/10 – Liked the reverse on the Beast angle, but she otherwise felt flat

Entertainment value

3/10 – Though I liked the premise and twist on the fairy tale, I never felt any chemistry between the two which made the story fall flat

World building

7/10 – Some good details, though the concentration on her as an alien species ends up meaning less time on other aspects



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