Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Vision of Heat (Psy/Changeling #2) by Nalini Singh

Faith is an F-Psy, one of the rare Psy who can see the future. And she’s one of the best of the best, literally worth billions from her forecasts

Until her visions become more unpredictable, dangerous and horrific – and she sees not just economic trends, but some brutal murders. The killer stalks her dreams and she fears she may be heading for the inevitable insanity that everyone expects the F-Psy to suffer – or she may crack enough for even her limited freedom to be shattered… for her “own good” of course

But is the only alternative the mysterious, ominous werejaguar who seems so obsessed with her and will not stop until he has demolished all her walls?

It’s difficult to write a review when nearly everything positive I want to say about this book I have already said in my review of Slave to Sensation, mainly the world setting. The whole history and complexity of Psy society, their different powers and abilities and how they’ve evolved with the introduction of the Silence is excellent. I like that we can still see crumbs of why the Psy would have turned to Silence even as we also see how it is so terrible for them now. I like as we explore more and more of the Changelings own history as well – particularly since it shows a lot of their brutal pasts (even if there is a sense of giving the male love interests tragic pasts because nothing makes brooding alpha males sexier than deep seated childhood trauma, apparently) and that their society is also not perfect. It would be easy to paint Changelings as good and Psy as bad but there’s clearly more involved in that. I also like how we had a brief introduction of humanity to this series – just a reference because more wouldn’t be relevant.

I like how this has been developed and the introduction of the Netmind and what that actually means for the Psy race. This world setting is not only fascinating and unique but it is also growing and developing.

The writing continues to be excellently paced and well balanced, bring in both the world building and action and development in a well balanced manner.

I have to say I wasn’t a big fan of Vaughn or Faith. I think both of them were pretty much avatars of their supernatural nature without a whole lot of characterisation on top of that. Faith is a repressed F-Psy and that’s pretty much her character. I didn’t really get much of a sense of her as a person. I’m much more interested in seeing the relationship between her and her father. Or even just in her father. The same goes for Vaughn, he’s a were-jaguar who is close to his Beast but I don’t have much of a sense of him as a person beyond that. Which is a shame because we already have hints of his personality with his choice of decorating and the fact he’s an artist by profession. We also needed more of their actual relationship beyond “rawr sexy psy” “zomg so hot jaguar” mating bond, relationship, declarations of love – job done.

Sadly, the most toxic element of the romance I complained about it Slave to Sensation is repeated in this book – and multiplied several times over. Vaughn has zero respect for Faith’s consent or body autonomy.

Faith firmly believes that touch will overwhelm her. Because she has been brought up with no physical contact and convinced that F-Psy will literally pass out and have seizures if they are touched. Worse, because that risks bringing down her shields to the psy-net and expose herself to anyone who wishes to violate her privacy and her mind. We even see an example of this when Vaughn repeatedly touches her despite her saying no and despite Sascha telling him not to do this.

But it doesn’t matter WHY Faith is saying Vaughn shouldn’t touch her. What is relevant is, like Sascha in the previous book, Faith repeatedly tells him over and over again that she doesn’t want to be touched. Her reasons are irrelevant. If someone doesn’t want you to touch them, you do not touch them. Establishing this romance on Vaughn not giving even the slightest shit about Faith’s boundaries is not romance, it’s a foundation of disrespect and abusiveness

Actually, I take it back – it does matter why Faith was saying no. Not because she thinks she will literally suffer and die from his touch – but because she is wrong. Because the story establishes Vaughn’s touch as the only thing that saves her from her dark visions. And Vaughn insists that Faith needs his touch to help break her Silence Conditioning that is weakening her and making her vulnerable

And he’s right

Why, in the name of all that is sensible, is he right? How does he know anything about the Psy, their physiology or what they can endure? How does he know Faith, her powers, her mind better than she knows herself? This comes down to him basically knowing Faith better than she knows herself. He ignores her consent, but it’s “ok” because he knows what’s good for her – far better than she knows herself. A man violating a woman’s bodily autonomy because he knows what she needs better than she does is such a destructive trope that I honestly can’t even begin to dredge up words to describe this.

What I do like and also wished was explored more was more of Faith’s conflict over living as a Psy or abandoning it all to live with Vaughn. After all, she’s a Psy with considerable wealth, prestige, status and potential power in the Psy world. She is quite literally one of the best in the world at what she does and could wield considerable influence. She is a part of this world – and while Sacha suffered every day in her world, Faith is esteemed in the life she leads. It should have been a hard decision.

In terms of diversity we continue to see the Psy portrayed as a racially very mixed people. In fact, Faith is very surprised to see a very pale Psy because such pale skin is very rare when the Psy mix their genes so very much. As Sacha has a mix of East Asian, South Asian and White family, this is the standard for most Psy. Faith herself is White and East Asian. Vaughn is described in ambiguous terms but could easily be read as non-White.

I do wish Sacha played a more important role in this book, but she is still vital if a lot more background than I’m happy with. I think her being stronger and in charge – alongside the Pack’s healer and the single female Sentinel – would do a lot to add more female representation – specifically female representation that doesn’t focus around a man forcing boundaries “for her own good”. There continues to be no LGBTQ people.

I’ve focused on a lot of the negative here because there are some major issues that need mentioning at length which isn’t helped by the lack of characterisation by the major characters giving me not a lot to counter. I still really like the world setting – the grand meta plot and some of the background characters are truly awesome and beyond worth reading this book for alone. It’s a shame that Faith and Vaughn are so problematic.