Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh
Source: la bibliothèque
The first book in Singh's Psy-Changeling series is practically famous as one of the best. paranormal. romances. EVER! Although I didn't enjoy it quite that much, it does have a very interesting premise and is well-written.
The world we enter into with this novel is pretty much exactly like our own--the same countries still exist, the same states and cities, similar technology, and even the same national parks and the same prejudices. This world, however, is shared between humans, changelings (who are basically weres--animal/human hybrids), and Psys. Psys are humans with psychic powers who are all connected through something called the PsyNet. About 100 years ago, the Psys decided to rid themselves of emotions like rage and anger in an effort to cut down on violent crime. But they couldn't isolate the emotions enough to get rid of specific ones, so instead they removed all their emotions. As a result, Psys now know nothing of love, kindness, desire, or even physical sensation. For all intents and purposes, they're basically highly functioning robots.
What I found really interesting about this book is that Psys in this scenario are actually us--i.e., regular humans. They represent the dangers of us being cut off from nature and relying too much on technology like the internet (which the PsyNet definitely resembles), and material possessions. The changelings, on the other hand, are humans bound with nature and tied closely to their family and friends, valuing emotional ties over information and intellectualism. That doesn't mean changeling nature doesn't have its drawbacks, but clearly the changelings are the good guys in this scenario.
With two species representing two sides of human nature, one might wonder if humans themselves are redundant--and in fact, there are no prominent human characters in this book. The hero is a wereleopard and the heroine is high-level Psy. But this Psy, Sascha, has a secret--she does feel emotion. She spends her life trying to hide this fact from the PsyNet so she won't be "rehabilitated" á la McMurphy from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. But Lucas, the leader of the wereleopard pack in question, can sense that Sascha isn't a normal Psy, and he's resolved to find out whether she can feel emotions or not.
The beginning of this novel is very, very good. Sascha and Lucas definitely have chemistry, and the premise of the book is totally believable. Where the story started to lose me was when Sascha and Lucas became über-focused on finding a serial killer. Since this is a romance novel, I wanted the story to focus on Sascha and Lucas' relationship, not a mystery. Furthermore, it was painfully obvious who the killer was from page 57. No joke. Maybe if the mystery has been a little bit more puzzling, I might have gone for it, but as it was--no.
Also, the whole Pack mentality--which includes the men protecting (re: dominating) the women--started to grate on my nerves after a while. I usually don't enjoy books about weres for that very reason. Sascha does resist domination, but let's be honest--she doesn't try very hard, now does she? And why is that? Well, because she loooves Lucas, of course! gag gag gag
But really that's just one of my personal pet peeves. Overall, this book is very intelligently written, with great characters and an intriguing world for a new paranormal romance series. It's also intensely emotional--since Sascha hasn't really allowed herself to experience emotions, once she does she's like a teenager tripping on raging hormones. And considering she's facing death or psychic lobotomy, I suppose her mood swings are justified. There is also a definite sense of danger for both Lucas and Sascha, and a level of risk involved with them getting together--which only makes the end all the more satisfying.
Really, I can't imagine anyone not at least liking this book.
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