by Melina Morel, fantasy (2008)
Signet, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-451-22541-2
Prey is all about the werecats whose ancestors once reigned in the Russian regions but now they are the prom kings and queens of the USA. We have Pavel Federov, a surveillance expert who also helps the cops in their cases, and Vivian Roussel, our heroine who dabbles in importing Russian artifacts for well-moneyed collectors. When a break-in occurs at Vivian's warehouse and an idol is stolen, Pavel ends up meeting Vivian as they find themselves knee-deep in a mystery where nothing is what it seems to be at first. Curiously, it seems like their clans are more involved in the theft that one would suspect... Meanwhile, Vivian is pressured by the Leader of her clan to get a mate (which would be him, of course), while Vivian is like, hell no, just her Miss Independence, bitches. She will change her tune when she meets Pavel, of course.
Unlike Ms Morel's debut effort Devour, Prey offers the illusion of a faster pace. The pace is actually quite middling, but the author uses very short and even curt sentences in this story, hence the illusion that the story is moving at a breakneck speed. Unlike Devour, Prey drags me straight into the heat of action...
Except, the author's use of very short sentences also leads to plenty of telling but no showing. Even worse, Ms Morel glosses over everything, and I do mean everything. From deaths to miraculous epiphanies to love scenes to shocking twists, everything is laid out and glossed over in a paragraph or two. There is no sense of build up in this story because every scene is written in the same dry and uninvolved manner. She said this, he said that, they did this, they did that, now let's move on to the next scene.
As for the romance, I don't see it. Like everything else about the story, the romance is dealt with as if the author is rushing to finish this story before she misses a train or something. Pavel and Vivian spend most of the story dealing with their own problems and then, wham, all of a sudden they are having a hot two-paragraphed "slot A, tab B, the end" sex scene and I'm supposed to be aware of all the fireworks happening between those two characters.
As you can guess, the author's unwillingness to scratch beyond the superficial when it comes to everything about the story also means that the setting is vague, the characters are flat, and the plot is pretty much a slow train moving from point A to B.
Prey may have been an interesting story, who knows, but when Ms Morel writes in such a dry and uninspired manner, as if she is so bored with her story that she just wants everything to be done with as quickly as possible, this story never had a chance to begin with.
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