Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-13596-8
Fantasy Romance, 2003
Christine Feehan’s first book in an, ahem, “exciting” new series for Jove, Shadow Game, is like a comic book for silly little kiddies. It has its charms, but it lacks both wit and sophistication, and the result is that the book lumbers towards the finishing line like a wheezing out-of-shape fellow dragging himself to the nearest all-you-can-eat buffet bar. Don’t worry, readers of The Carpathians and that Seven Sisters series, this new series is not something horrible like Blade Runner or other creepy, scary stuff. Everybody’s still a psychic – yay, aren’t we happy today? – except for the bad guys, that is.
If you readers are too impatient for the next fifty books in the series, don’t worry. From this author’s track record, all fifty books in the series will be released by end 2004, latest. If we’re lucky, the author will also cram in fifteen novellas in between.
Stuck in the cages deep in a Secret Laboratory are enough psychic soldiers to populate the author’s new series. These soldiers are enhanced so that they have special psychic powers. Our hero Capt Ryland Miller’s story starts when he meets the Head Researcher’s daughter Lily Whitney, who’s also psychic. Then when people start dying – including Lily’s father – and the evil Head of the Lab starts running amok with all the subtlety of a walrus orgy, Lily and Ryland will have to join forces and escape the evil. Cameo appearances by future heroes of this author’s series at convenient moments will tantalize readers into buying the author’s upcoming books in this series.
Ryder and Lily’s romance should be familiar. He sees her, he wants her, it’s like some soulmate thing. Gee, where have I read that before? After Ms Feehan’s strong heroines in her last few books (the one that came out last month, and the one the month before the last… I think (I sort of lost count, sorry), Lily’s annoying italicized spine being this weak is quite a disappointment. The science fiction/paranormal elements are interesting in a reject Misfits Of Science script way, but the author’s unpolished prose and reliance on repetitious psychobabble bog down most of the story, leaving only vaguely interesting ideas mostly left unfulfilled. Too much one-dimensional action figure dramatics and even more “I’m so sad, I’m so weak, invade my mind and make love to me, Ryder!” drama from the heroine all make Shadow Game a story with nice ideas but very uneven execution.
Still, at least the author is changing the scenery in her story, even if most of the romantic elements and the characters of Shadow Game are the same old, same old. I can’t help thinking though, if the author takes time to polish up her book instead of releasing twenty underbaked and repetitious books a year, maybe she could come up with a book that’s worth rereading instead of just more Big Mac equivalents that can be easily read and then forgotten the day after. Then again, it probably doesn’t fit the new economic plan destiny has for Christine Feehan, the McDonald’s of the romance genre. Oh well, it’s still a pity nonetheless.