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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

"Silver Shark" by Ilona Andrews (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Order “Silver SharkHERE
Read An Excerpt HERE
Read a detailed review of the Kinsmen series HERE (Bastard Books) 

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Ilona Andrews is the pseudonym for the husband-and-wife writing team of Ilona Gordon & Andrew Gordon. Together, Andrew and Ilona are the co-authors of the New York Times bestselling Kate Daniels urban fantasy series and the romantic urban fantasy novels of The Edge. They live in Texas with their children. 

OFFICIAL SYNOPSIS: Claire Shannon is a killer. She uses no weapons, only her mind. Born on a planet locked in a long war, Claire is a psycher, a woman with the ability to attack minds and infiltrate a biological computer network where psychers battle to the death. But when the war abruptly ends, Claire must hide her psycher's ability to survive.

She is deported to a new planet, a vivid beautiful place, where she meets Venturo Escana, a powerful psycher, whose presence overwhelms both her mind and her body. She thought she had left war and death behind, but now she must fight for her new life and this battle might just cost her everything she hold dear... 

FORMAT/INFO: Silver Shark is 96 pages long divided over eight chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. Narration is via first person and the sole narrator is Claire Shannon. Silver Shark has a self-contained plot and is book II in the Kinsmen SF novella series. September 14 2011 marked the e-book publication of Silver Shark and it was self-published by the authors. 

CLASSIFICATION: The authors have called their effort as a mix of SF and Romance. I thought it more akin to Blade Runner meets the Matrix meets Working Girl; this pitch would be a cool way to describe this incredible fun novella. 

ANALYSIS: Silver Shark is a book which I got to read thanks to the authors’ benevolence. I had no idea as to what it entailed or even much about the blurb. All I knew that it had elements of SF as well as romance.

The story opens up in the middle of a war, there's the planet of Uley wherein two corporations have been fighting a war since the last sixty-eight years. Claire Shannon is a mentally trained warrior called psycher. She leads a team of trained psychers into battle on a daily basis. Things however turn bad for her corporation and she gets deported to the planet of Rada wherein she finds a totally different civilization. They are the same people however their outlook towards life and general attitudes makes them almost seem alien. 

Claire soon finds a job as a non-psycher as to be discovered otherwise means deportation to Uley and certain death. She finds employment in Venturo Escano’s company however finds that she is turning into a different person on this new planet. Thus begins the plot which will have Claire fight with her emotions as well showcase her iron will and determination which has seen her survive the Uleyian purge and perhaps conquer her heart’s desire after all.

While I have no idea about what kind of story this would be, I was certain in my mind that it would be worth my time solely because it was written by Ilona Andrews. The talented duo has shot up within my reading ranks since the past year and if I get a new book from them, it rapidly jumps to the top of my reading queue. This book shares certain characteristics with the Kate Daniels series namely it has a very strong heroine who’s fun to read about, the world building is also intriguing and while its not unique, it does have its own flavor.

The biggest plus point for this story was its narrative energy, from page one the reader gets rapidly introduced to Claire’s world and its from there on we are shown all her struggles and the plot twists, never once even losing any of its energy or becoming dull. The action in this book is top notch and while the novella structure robs the story of its full fledged potential, it does give out a tightly wound story which gives the reader no respite and demands for the reader to turn the page and know what happens next.

This book is a kind of a sequel to the novella Silent Blade which was set on the same world but featured different characters. Both those characters make an appearance and readers of the previous book will get a nice peek into their lives. For those of us (like me) who haven’t read Silent Blade, this does not become a problem as the characters appearance and presence is smoothly explained in the story and is vital from a plot point as well series continuity. Lastly there’s also the romance aspect to the story which I must say is nicely wrapped in the SF trappings of the story and for readers who like me don’t really care for romance tinged stories, this hardly becomes an issue as the authors have given us a very character driven story and this just makes it an enticing read. This novella seems almost set to be translated to the big screen and if this should ever happen I would be first in line to see it.

Now for a couple of foibles about the story, the world building is nicely done and is a bit dystopian as well, however readers will have to take certain things with a pinch of salt as certain plot happenings have a bit of loophole-ish quality to them however in the overall scheme of things don’t cause much of an issue. The biggest quibble could be the ending as the authors leave the stage set and then give out a coda about what happened while this again can be explained by the novella structure, certain readers would have definitely loved to read the happenings. The authors have even commented on this aspect saying that their editor Anne Sowards would have almost certainly never let them get away with such a thing. 

CONCLUSION: I thoroughly enjoyed this story because of its quick pace, plot twists and good characterization. Ilona Andrews have given a quality story which will be enjoyed by readers who have or haven’t read their previous work. Dive in if you would like to read a terrific story about a woman whose life is turned upside down and has to re-learn how to live life all over again to get what she wants. Highly recommended for fans of Paranormal Romance books as well as for fans of Ilona Andrews.


Bets Davies said...

Huh. Never read their work. Not really a novella fan, anyway. Not enough room for full character work most of the time, though it appears this book combats that. I'm more of an urban fantasy girl than a hard core SF girl, but I do like the idea of psychers and warring corporations. I don't know whether they got confusing or if I was confused, but she got deported, but was told she couldn't reveal herself as a psycher, as apparently this planet has a clause that they will send her back to die? That's a weird sort of deported in my mind. I don't read romances, really, but I'm a fan of romantic elements. Mainly because I'm a fan of character building. attraction, love, and sex are just as much a part of the human condition as any other area of emotion, thought, and action.

The Reader said...

Hi Bets

Surprisingly this novella manages to give a decent story and since the focus is primarily on Claire, her character is developed nicely in the reader's mind. Venturo doesn't get that much screen time.

The reason why she's deported will be a spoiler and hence I've left it a bit vague. Since you like romantic elements, you might enjoy this as the story has distinct romantic moments which are juxtaposed between action and character interactions. The novella structure doesn't give much time for character development but were this story expanded into a full fledged novel or even the sequel were fleshed out. I believe the authors have a series on their hand.


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