Alicia Nordwell – The Experiment

experiment

Author: Alicia Nordwell
Reviewed by:  Sandra
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Genre: M/M Sci Fi
ISBN 13: 9781627983549

Rating: ★★★¾☆ 

Summary:   In the distant future, humans wage war against the alien planet Caeorleia, with no tactic off-limits if it will help the humans get their hands on Caeorleia’s resources. Ask Ryker. He thought he volunteered for a simple experiment that would help his government in the war. He didn’t realize sadistic doctors would turn him into the experiment—by injecting him with blood from a captured Caeorleian, Seral Iorflas.

Nor did Ryker realize he’d be sent to sabotage a planet full of the very beings his world is battling, beings who kill humans on sight. But then, thanks to the experiment that irrevocably changed him, he isn’t exactly human any longer—and with each passing day, as his blood bond with Seral strengthens, he’s less and less sure as to whose side he’s on.

Review:  I love sci-fi romance. I love sexy aliens. I love it.

This started well with a first person POV from Ryker on the ship. We didn’t have to witness any of his horrible abuse first hand, of which I am thankful, but we did get to hear him recount and/or think about some of it while still there and with his captors. This gives it more power and I felt a stronger connection with him, than if it was a flashback or memory sequence.

A couple chapters go by and I was on the edge of my seat hoping we would get Seral’s POV and… WE DID! This was in third person, not sure why the change, but I guess it made the book feel a little more focused on Ryker. The change really didn’t bother me, I barely noticed, but I’m sure there are some it would drive crazy.

As to the plot, I liked it. We’re no stranger to the humans-are-asshole-space-invading-parasites-trying-to-steal-your-planet plot, but it works for a reason. Humans have destroyed Earth and are looking for new resources. Ryker’s role as an experiment is as an implanted spy to gather information and make conquest easier, since they were running into some trouble, and the scientists expected him to be quickly killed. Now here I had a couple criticisms.

The whole abuse scenario does seem a bit far fetched. I get that people are assholes, and left to their own devices can be horrible. But why did they need ‘volunteers’ at all? Weren’t there some loyal soldiers who would volunteer as an undercover agent to go spy on the planet. Maybe since they assume the aliens were savages, and didn’t think someone could infiltrate in that way. But the abuse was pretty extreme and at times a little over the top.

Once Ryker and Seral are on the planet, it progresses as expected. Seral ‘claims’ Ryker without Ryker knowing what’s going on yet. Seral needs to win his trust. They feel drawn to each other and fall in lust, then love. Not everyone trusts this newcomer and some political machinations occur (although not too much). Ryker begins to recover emotionally and gain confidence again.

That’s great, but related to Ryker’s confidence, this hit a few pet peeves: 1) someone using “girly” as an insult or self-deprecating comment for crying, being emotional, or in some way unreasonable. 2) the seemingly more submissive/in less control partner getting sassy and not listening to the other when in a military or work related situation where not only does the other guy know more about what’s going on and have more experience, but it’s a huge safety risk to you both and others! (ie: “you can’t leave me behind!” It’s a fucking military mission you idiot and you are in NO way qualified!)

Now to the sex! 🙂 It was hot, but there actually wasn’t a ton of it. Once their relationship became intimate it seemed that’s when the plot developed as well so they got distracted. This is fine, except they tried to bring it back at the end. Personally, I like my sex in the middle. Once we have the climax of the plot or a big battle, I tend to skip sex scenes because by that point I’m more interested in plot resolution. This becomes a problem when I skip a sex scene only to realize… it was the last chapter.

It shouldn’t have caught me totally off guard. I knew we were wrapping up, and most large lose ends were tied. There were a few small lose ends introduced near the end of the book, that will either be a perfect second/third book or simply make us feel as if the world goes on. I would definitely be interested in reading another book on this planet.

Overall this was a fun, complex, and creative sci-fi romance that I thoroughly enjoyed.

 

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