We read and review for the love and joy of books.
Genre: M/M Fantasy
Old Earth is a penal colony and Pandemonia is a prisoner enclave. Set in a dystopic future, scientists have risen to power and rule. Their group, the Nucelate is a conglomerate of amoral scientists in control of many places, but solely overseeing Old Earth where they conduct human experiments.
Pandemonia is an anarchist society except for the semi-privileged who subsist within the confinement grid. No rules aside from 'Don't mess with the Nucelate's lackeys'. Like all power structures, the rules are written to ensure the Nucleate's power. I liked the set up for the story, but there were technical issues.
Clunky writing tell us useless details of today in the far future rather than the far future in places we know today. Significant grammar issues. Use of past perfect tense when the characters are repeating the act still. Subject and verb tense agreement errors. It does get better as it goes along making me think maybe the beginning was reworked and not as vigorously edited.
Then there are content issues. The far future and yet we're using WWII travel documents?
They'd never let him out unless he had proper stamped papers to prove his identity.
An ID card he can't lose? Why in the future can't we chip someone? We do it today. Oh wait, there's a character that does have a subdermal chip. So confused why that technology isn't utilized in other ways especially since Swane's origin is a more advanced society.
Swane, our intrepid behavioral scientist, is clinically TSTL. August agrees. Swane even agrees. His naiveté is disturbing and more than once I wondered as to his gender. He was written like a swooning heroine. Then there is the issue of Stockholm Syndrome because there is no logical explanation for the emotional involvement; protection yes, love no.
August turns out to not be the degenerate, bloodthirsty, raping lunatic he's sold as at the beginning--Surprise. Not. Though his story why he's there and what he occupies his time with is interesting. Definitely the most successful aspect of this story for me.
While the push to accept the grand romance of Swane and August, even though August seems tepid about it at times, didn't work for me. There is one scene in a redesigned Roman bath that lived up to this reader's expectations of bawdiness. Hot and why I gave this story a bump from 2 to 2.5 stars. Of course, a subsequent scene where August tosses Swane onto a bed with recently broken ribs, and it not having any effect at all made me roll my eyes.
Overall, a mad, mad world thwarted by love and poor editing.
"Just a boogeyman's tale for children."