Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Lightning Rider by Jen Greyson

Evy Rivera just came out of a very bad relationship which has left her apartment and her bank account empty. Though Evy feels very upset about this, she doesn't realize that her life is about to get a lot more complicated.  When her father discovers a box containing a book which once belonged to his father, Evy has no inkling that her curiosity about her family history is going to force her to embrace her birthright as the only female lightening rider to ever live.

As you might well imagine traveling back through time and changing what happened is not an easy thing to do.  This is why each rider is given a guide but how does Evy know that just trust them.  They know more  about what Evy is than she does and they are not always willing to answer questions.  Evy knows that Ilif Rotiart's feelings about women means that he is not interested in her.

I was surprised to see that Lightning Rider was placed under the category of paranormal romance.  Don't get me wrong, there is a romance in the book but the story itself is not dependent upon the romance to exist.  We did however get the whole star crossed lovers deal because Evy's love interest Constantine is an ancient roman.

One of the things I liked about this story is that Evy the protagonist is a Latina and unlike many novels in this genre, she is not Latina in name only.  Greyson includes some dialogue in Spanish and we get a strong sense of culture for her.  While Evy comes from a family of Lightning Riders, Evy's culture is not to blame for her magic, which again is rare. We do once again get the chosen one meme as Evy's birth and skill is foretold in legend but rarely do we see in this genre this trope applied to a WOC. 

There are only about six characters of note in this novel and half of them are women.  Each woman is very different but strong in their own way.  Evy is literally a walking weapon with her ability to harness and use lightning, but Greyson has her face misogyny.  We are told that as a bike mechanic Evy is used to dealing with sexism but seeing her have to negotiate with Ilif further explains her low tolerance.  What at first seems like a resistance to authority, is actually a reaction to having to continually negotiate sexism and prove her worth. Penya Sepadas at first comes across as the wise person of colour because she attempts to guide Evy through her travels.  It's not helped by the fact that though Penya is actively trying to thwart Ilif, she is clearly not as strong as him.  Penya is a no nonsense woman and she is clearly Ilif's contemporary.  She may not be as strong as Ilif but continually finds a way to work around the road blocks he places in her way, thus making her extremely capable and crafty.

Lightning Rider is yet another in a long line of stories in which GLBT characters are erased.  When you consider that we are dealing with ancient Romans, this does not make any sense.  Yes, Romans explicitly engaged in same sex relationship though it was stigmatizing for the person who was considered the bottom it is a well documented fact.  There is no reason for Greyson's erasure of GLBT characters in this story.

I really enjoyed Lightning Rider and actually found it impossible to put down once I started.  The story moved swiftly and I simply had to know how it ended.  Just like Evy we were given answers slowly to heighten interest and Greyson shows, rather  than tells what is going on.  Lightning Riders was extremely well written and I found it to be a breathe of fresh air.  Those who were fans of the show Quantum Leap will in particularly enjoy this story.

Editors Note: A copy of this book was received from Netgalley