[Project: Adapt 1]
A failed human prototype. That’s all she is…
Born and raised as an experiment, Selena’s life has been filled with torture, betrayal, and distrust… but one night changes everything.
Sold, attacked, and on the run, Selena is picked up by a colony ship. Struggling to find her place on this ship and trying to understand the draw she feels toward two alien males, her already uncertain life becomes downright unimaginable when she learns new life is growing inside her.
Terrified her captors will find her and take her and her children back to a life of horror and captivity, she must learn to trust her saviors, and herself.
With the help of her two mates, Selena will fight for her freedom—or die trying.
Here there be spoilers.
An interesting concept brought down by inconsistent behavior and an overall juvenile feel.
Selena (formerly 5313-3F) honestly baffled me. For a woman who spent her entire life in captivity as the subject of brutal experiments, she was remarkably well-adjusted. She was quick to trust, quick to form bonds and fall in love, quick to come to grips with her situation. Too quick, to me. I’d expect her to be deeply suspicious, especially given that her one trusted “companion” (never seen by her outside of dreams) not only supposedly abandoned her, but also impregnated her without her knowledge or consent (which is an entirely different issue). Yet she bonded one of her mates (I hate that word, which doesn’t help) almost immediately, quickly moved past her upset at him not giving her timely notice of her pregnancy, and almost immediately became codependent with him.
She really seemed to have no backbone, despite her posturing. She rolled with everything without much concern and was remarkably accepting with little thought or contemplation. When she did stand up for herself, it was jarring to the point of seeming out of character and gratuitous.
Her love interests were no more consistent.
The nameless father of her cubs (cubs) makes noises about her being his Nova–his fated mate, basically–yet he’s down with her having a harem of other men, as long as none of them are of his own race. For a male as manipulative as he is otherwise, he’s remarkably chill about the whole thing. Xylo and Odelm were interestingly alien, and Kaede intrigued me… until he drove me nuts. For a super-soldier with 250,000+ kills to his name, he’s awfully lackadaisical with his protection of Selena. He searched for her for years only to have her slip through his fingers–you’d think he’d be a little more paranoid when it came to her protection. Instead, he lets her wander around basically unsupervised (the mentions of his drones come and go so they basically seem useless) and get herself into trouble. His attitude was so hot and cold that I wanted to smack him half the time.
I’m not a fan of mate bonds–it’s just not my thing–so the relationship between Selena, Xylo, and Odelm was more or less unappealing to me. While I liked Xylo and Odelm on their own, as soon as they were around Selena, they were too interchangeable. I did appreciate that they were actually alien and not basically humans with a different skin color and some horns or something added, though I don’t think I’d have chosen plants and squid as my best option. Still… whoo, tentacle sex.
Said tentacle sex was interesting, though I don’t necessarily know that I’d call it hot given it was so, well, alien. It was more like an anthropological study, appealing for the mechanics rather than how many times they made Selena come with different clinging appendages.
But then there was the birth scene. The erotic birth scene. There were so many things wrong about the whole scene that I was nearly flailing trying to explain it as I was reading it. My biggest issue, though, was with the whole “semen will make her cervix dilate, so someone has to ejaculate into her!” concept. It was established that the Circuli (the confluence of the plant-based and squid-based races) were unable to biologically ejaculate outside of the initial mate-bond or when their nestqueen (…) was in heat (!!!), so they were out. The remaining option was Kaede, who was an unknown race. Even if he was able to successfully have sex with Selena, why would they assume that his semen would have the hormone necessary to help her cervix dilate? We’ve established that these aliens are truly alien, so for them to assume that one of them ejaculating into her would work was eye-rollingly convenient. (Naturally, Kaede had magical cervix-dilating ejaculate, so it worked out. I still rolled my eyes a lot.)
Beyond the characters and their relationships, not a lot happened. Really. For most of the book, they’re on the same colony ship, so the setting is very limited and the story ends up very character-driven by default. There are hints of conflict with the Yaarkin, but after Selena’s dramatic escape, they’re nothing more than that: hints.
The writing itself struck me as kind of muddled and almost sterile, too fraught with over-thinking to really carry me along. A few things struck me wrong (such as how opinions jive, not jibe) and dragged my attention away. There were also some inconsistencies that should have been caught in editing (vis à vis how the Circuli feel or don’t feel love, for one). I kind of felt like the author had so many great ideas to include that some were shoehorned in.
In the end, it kind of hit the spot for alien sex, but still kind of left me wanting. My on-again-off-again intrigue in Kaede isn’t quite enough to drag me into book two, especially as we finally meet the father of Selena’s cubs (ugh). Is he as much of a jerk as he’s come across in book one? Who knows? It won’t be me.