Thursday, January 17, 2013
I'm not part of the Oculus Blog Tour, but I finished the novel last weekend and wanted to show my support with a review.
In Oculus; our protagonist Jordan Pendragon and his twin sister Kathy have returned from the technologically advanced world of Avalon - where liquid life is the preferred currency and almost everyone has some sort of mechanical enhancement to extract the precious fluids that keeps people young and healthy indefinitely. While in Avalon, the twins discovered they have the most rare form of liquid life - Life Green, usually only present in infants. Jordan fell in love with the vampiric assassin Kolin, and Kathy fell in love with the tactical specialist Dylan.
Several months have passed since the twins' return to Earth, and Kathy and Jordan have resumed their interrupted lives back on Earth. The opening line to Oculus is: "I can live a normal life," Jordan said, and then he pulled the trigger. As I read this novel I was continually reminded of this story/character concept, and the author expertly wove all the ways Jordan attempted to lead a "normal" life, and failed.
The continuing story is set at Cornell University, as the University is home to the particle collider CHESS that Jordan needs to find the location of the Black Tower. Finding the black tower is a series plot, and several plot concepts/clues are integrated into this sequel novel that moves that story concept along. Many family secrets are revealed in this sequel; including the Pendragon linkage to the mystical line of King Arthur, the introduction of a secret watcher group known as A Deo et Rege (which unwittingly holds the "eye" to Jordan's heritage), and a "gathering" of essential ally characters that will later be important to the overall series concept. The reader is also more fully introduced to the series concept of the villain Charon's plans to thwart the newly revealed Arch Angel Jordan Pendragon; and discovery, and restoration, of the Black Tower.
It is the overall series concept, and the individual characters, that draws me as a reader to this author. I'm an epic fantasy reader, and I appreciate a lengthy world and plot building endeavor. The series is slated for 7 novels to tell the epic story, and I'm intrigued enough in the characters, the overall storyline, and the alternate universe concepts/technology to continue reading a paper novel of over 400 pages (no clue what that equates to in digital formatting).
If you're reading this review and thinking "I'd never commit to a novel this length," you might want to consider that it is fast paced, explicitly sexual (male/male) with a satisfactory romantic element, AND satisfies the geek/nerd/sports fan/action/romance/LGBT/epic/YA/Adult audience.
Slipstream (the first novel in the series) or the free short story Insanity of Zero to "get" this stand alone sequel; there were several complex character/story/series concepts that were expertly and intricately woven into the novel; the romance/sexuality segments and violence/bloody scenes did not overwhelm the story. Nothing contraversial about this novel seem to be included for "shock" or marketing value.
There was also a very real-world issue of gays in sports (and homosexual issues in general) that added an element of romance/drama to the character plots, but did not take the focus off the main issues of the story. I also immensely enjoyed the secondary story deviation of Kolin, Dylan, and Kathy's mission to discover a link between a mental health asylum and Charon's nefarious take over of human insurgents. Who doesn't love an intelligent, well connected villain?
I also liked the sexual content (few closed door sex scenes), the mix of romantic innocence/exhibitionism, and the bloody (not gory) segments. Offutt portrays a difference between explicit sexual and violence scenes and gratuitous filler. Every scene, even if overly descriptive, adds to the forward progress of the characters or story line. Movement is key to this novel, and the author delivers in this aspect.
I'm giving this novel a 4 star rating because of reader biases. I'm not a fan of 3rd person omni POV, I don't like the prolific use of descriptive pronouns, and I think some of the physical/fashion descriptions, science explanations, and blow by blow sports narrative could have been reduced. The focus of this novel appears to be on the athletic abilities and scientific knowledge of the MC Jordan rather than on the overall plot concept of restoring the universe to its original design.
My review is mixed because I enjoyed the story, the characters, the plot concepts, the scientific discoveries, the other-world technology, and the mix of theology and mysticism. I will read the next installation. But I feel the author is trying to appeal to TOO broad a reader audience. I highly recommend Oculus; whether you're looking for a stand alone urban fantasy/sci-fi fantasy or just enjoy a geeky/sporty romance, or to start an epic novel series. It has appeal to both YA and Adult audiences, and those of sexually explicit or risque romantics.
Meet the author:
slckismet with an author bio of "I'm a guy, and I write stories. Please read them." Visit Michael's blog link to learn more about him as a blogger/author and to discover links to his published novels and Oculus blog tour.
You will not be disappointed in getting to know this author/blogger.