Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review: Intangible by J. Meyers

Sera and Luke are siblings born with odd powers – he can see the future and she has the power to heal. They don’t know where they come from but they do know they need to keep them secret – at least, so they learned when they dared to confide in their grandmother.

But some secrets can’t last forever – especially as there’s a whole supernatural world out there they never knew about that is very interested in them and their unique powers. A world that begins to intrude when Luke predicts disaster – his own sister’s death.

Sera is also dealing with her own powers, her drive to heal causes people to like her automatically which isolates her – as she never knows whether someone’s emotion is genuine or she is exploiting her power. She has earned the animosity of the vampires and their terrible queen by being a potent weapon against them – and there’s a new boy in town who seems to be both attracted to her and immune to her powers; for the first time a genuine relationship seems possible.

But very little is as it seems – and even their closest friends and family are keeping secrets from them

The world is very rich and diverse and connected nicely. We have the fae – apparently several factions, gifted humans, vampires, Lillith, magic, an entire parallel world and who knows what else. In fact the closing chapter of the book suggests there’s a lot more on the horizon besides. The information is doled out really well. No long lectures, no  convoluted info dumps, no dubious “as you know” lectures – and nothing told we don’t need to know. Every piece of information is relevant and just enough to keep you wanting more.

The pacing was really well done – the story kept both tense and interesting without having a lot of down time. We had a large chunk at the beginning where everyone was keeping their secrets, but things were still happening, plots were being advanced, characters were being developed, their powers were being show cased – the book kept moving even when not much plot-wise was happening. The story itself isn’t amazingly original – bad guys are hunting the Chosen Ones who don’t realise how special they are – but nor is it following too many old patterns and it brings enough richness, enough of a diverse world and enough original features for it not to be tired or over done. It’s an old concept but redressed nicely with unique elements.

The characters are interesting – they’re not perfect and their powers aren’t flawless gifts. They have a bit of Chosen One narrative about them which, so far, hasn’t added up to anything beyond people wanting to kill them in many painful ways, so it’s not irritating or frustrating (I generally don’t like “chosen one” narratives because it conveys a specialness on the character they don’t have to earn or do anything to be worthy of it – they just are because they’re the Chosen Ones). They’re generally, sensible – perhaps a little too much doing things on their own when unnecessary. Their relationships are real and they examine some real implications about their powers. While I think Sera angsts a little excessively about the implications of her powers she does raise a very real issue of how you can form a relationship of any kind with someone when you suspect your powers may be warping their emotions – it means any relationship, especially a romantic one, is built on a shaky foundation of coercion; I’m glad to see that acknowledged.

If I have a complaint about the world and characters is that there is an excess of secrecy going on. Given their powers, I don’t see why Fey – or anyone – could not have clued them in on their specialness a little sooner or at least given them a clue as to why they have their powers and what they mean (or even some hints on how to get the most out of them since there’s some suggestion of development). The secrecy seems more for the form than anything

I don’t find it entirely realistic that everyone just flocks around Sera in joyous appreciation. I don’t see any particular reason why Jonas and Marc should be so utterly taken with her. It’s almost on first meeting as well, they see her and suddenly they’re enraptured to the point where they’re willing to sacrifice their own lives to help her and protect her.

Similarly, after a relatively short period of association, Marc is already close enough in Sera’s affections to break her heart. The romance and friendship development seemed rushed – we had their undying loyalty before she’d really earned it

And both Luke and Sera are pretty spunky. I almost laughed (which rather ruined the tension of the book) at the big dramatic end scene when Fey has everything under control – but no, Luke is going to take a walk, all by himself and get into trouble! Don’t worry, Fey will fix it! But no, now Sera has gone off alone and got into trouble! Fey, come fix this now! I think Fey should certainly have doled out some slapping there.

Inclusionwise we have Jonas, the vampire who is black. He’s a badass which is something of a stereotype, but he’s second only to Lillith in the vampire hierarchy, he has an awesome, albeit inappropriate sense of humour. He’s quite a full fleshed out character – though he does sacrifice and risk a great deal for Luke and Sera despite not really knowing them well enough for it.

On the GBLT front we have one very minor character (who seems to be a hanger on of the siblings) who may be gay… or not. He faces homophobic bullying (which the straight protag rescues him from) but there’s no indication of him actually being gay – or anything else for that matter.

The book has made a really good start intruding this series. We’ve seen the world without being dumped on it, we’ve seen the characters and they aren’t annoying. We’re introduced to a meta plot and a concept without it being convoluted. The book, the story, the characters, the world and the pacing are all very good and worth a read – and we’re set up for the series with new plot hooks and so much more to learn. I look forward to reading the future books.

A copy of this book was provided by the author to review.