Monday, February 18, 2013

A book review: tired of stereotypes... much?


Phoenix RisingPhoenix Rising by Corrina Lawson
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Beth is a young psychologist who is treating Alec, a 23 year old telekinetic who can control fire. He lives in a compound in the US, called the Resource. Alec is part of a team of soldiers who are contractors for different government agencies, particularly the CIA, to perform difficult anti-terrorist missions. Beth is actually a latent telepath, and she wants to 'save' Alec from the Resource, by showing him that this organisation has been training and treating him as a weapon surprise, by keeping him recluse since his childhood, without choice. Things will get complicated and a steamy hot romance will sparkle.

This is more or less the basic plot of this book. It did sound exciting, but in execution, not so much. The storyline, characters, development and outcomes was just meh... And the romance... Arghhhhh it was so bland.

Allow me a quick comparison. There is a US TV show called NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service. It's simple, predictable and has the worst jokes. The bad guys are ALWAYS caught or punished by the good guys. The moral lines are very straightforward and easy to define. Eagerly showcasing stereotypes of duty, honour, family and military service. However, whenever I stumbled upon it, I watched it.
This was how I felt reading Phoenix Rising. It's not bad. It's predictable. Highlights similar 'core' values to those of NCIS. But if you somehow end up with the book in your hands, you might read it.

Mainly, what bothered me the most was who the soldiers were fighting: how deeply stereotyped the villains where for their missions (nationalities, religion and agendas), and how unquestioning and naïve of these 'facts' our main characters were. See spoiler
This bothers me because media feeds so much into these 'common' identifiable enemies, that it becomes 'easy' to categorize just by naming country of origin and religion. Why does it make me cringe that fiction and literature tap into these 'easy' good/bad views? I don't have a straightforward answer, but I think reproducing these assumptions make people less prone to question what is presented as 'facts'...*sigh* I know, it's not the author's fault; it's how mainstream US oriented media views leaked into this book, which made me very uncomfortable.

If you're interested in the other stuff: telekinesis, telepathy and fire, well... I suggest Jus Accardo's Denazen series and Kelley Armstrong's Darkest Powers Trilogy.
If you're in for the romance, Phoenix Rising's romance was not believable... Specially the sex. I was promised a steamy apple pie and I received a tiny slice of frozen apple. I want my pie!

I originally gave it 1 star, but the book made a very appropriate reference to John McClane's "Yippee-ki-yay", in exactly the right time. I know I'm entirely contradicting my critique of good vs bad rant from above, but when you are able to nail a quote from Die Hard, you'll get an extra star on my rating.


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