Review by Riley
“Find someone you can trust.”
For decades, Eve and her fellow electorgs—part human, part machine—have worked on the quiet planet of Aarde, beating back toxic spores that threaten to poison the native people. When the new commander halts work right before a deadly spore release, Eve frantically plots to protect the villagers she considers friends and family.
On the run after an ambush, Quinn holds a secret that nearly got him killed. If only he knew what it was. Though the attack scrambled his memories, Quinn is sure of one thing—he can’t trust the electorgs. But they know information he desperately needs to puzzle out who wants him dead, and why.
With the fate of life on Aarde in the balance, the logic of joining forces with Eve overrides Quinn’s fears…and erupts into an attraction that could prove fatal for both of them.
Because the planet’s commander might just be Quinn himself.
Review of Passages
D’Air this is a good book!
Lets start with what sets Passages apart from most books I’ve read lately. It’s creative. Laurel Wanrow’s development of the world of Aarde, its physics, biogeography, the goud and most especially, the electorgs and their socio-political structure is very thoughtful and quite original.
One might say that electorgs, or ‘torgs, are just cyborgs and therefore not original. Maybe yes, they are cyborgs, but face it, the Docga have very specific criteria for selection of humans that could become cyborgs. First, they had to have some special talent. And second, they had to be dead. So, not your typical scifi-physically-enhanced human.
That begs the question, who/what are these Docga, that can take a dead person and turn it into a living being? And these beings still appear to have souls, if I am allowed a spiritual observation. Again I ask, who are these seemingly benevolent beings that give life to the ‘torgs and then send them around the universe to do their bidding. I must admit to wanting to know much more about these beings, one of whom appears in the form of a sentient wolfhound in Passages. (Appealing to the dog-lovers.) On the other hand, the mysteriousness of the race is just another thing that I appreciate about the them.
The two main characters, Quinn and ‘torg Eva, alternate first person viewpoints from chapter to chapter. If you are the type of person who tends to ignore chapter headings in an effort to get straight to the story, don’t! Each chapter is headed with either “Quinn” or “Eva”, so the readers knows whose viewpoint is being followed. When the action continues directly from the previous chapter, these headings become very important.
I enjoy first person narrations, because I so like getting into the head of a character. Even if a) the character has had a memory loss and therefore, there is not much to get into (Quinn) or b) the character tends to deny some of her past (Eva) in order to not have to deal with it in the present. You many now begin to see also, why I liked these characters so much. They have depths to be explored, they are complex and both are also quite flawed.
And they are drawn to each other, with a number of complications that constantly keep them apart – with good reason. The romance between these two is heartfelt and complicated and perfect. Of the two, Quinn is most interesting. He has lost so much of his memory, but at times seems very capable. Who or what is he? It was very cool to watch him grow into the hero. And the lover.
I find the ‘torg social structure to be quite fascinating and not like anything I’ve run across in other scifi. Therefore, it is another of the aspects of Passages that make the book stand out to me. B-runs, associations of three ‘torgs who live together as a family and work in the community they are assigned to, make up the main ‘torg workforce. Eva, Evard and Evangeline make up a B-run. Each has his or her own function that the Docga thinks is beneficial to the world or community they are serving. In this case, this run of ‘torgs lives in and runs the bookstore Passages while they help the Zeffir Island community with their botany, veterinary, and psychological talents.
E-runs, are the elite ‘torgs or the ministers. The administrative runs are formed from 5 ‘torgs and again, each member of the quintad has a separate, but important, function. You will be slowly introduced to a key e-run in Passages. As members of the administrative class, you might surmise that they are also a source of intrigue.
While Eva and Quinn are the main characters in Passages, there are several secondary characters that really help flesh out the rest of the story. Primarily, the other two members of Eva’s B-run – Evangeline and Evard. Each has their own story to tell, but only part of is shared in Passages. (I want more!)
Perhaps the most interesting story that is only partially told belongs to Sabein. Sabein is the matriarch and leader of the Zeffir Island community and there is much to her, as you might expect of one who reaches her position. She is especially close to Eva and for that matter, all three ‘torgs in Eva’s group are her friends, despite the fact that they are not natives. She works closely with them within her community. But Zeffir and the residents are her top priority.
Passages is not comprised solely of compelling protagonists. Do you want to talk about the antagonist(s)? Evil? Yes. Clever? Smart enough to get around the good guys – at least early on. Power hungry? Absolutely. I wasn’t 100% clear on the bad guy’s motivation, other than that power-hungry thing. But sometimes, you don’t really need to know more than that. These adversaries to Eva, Quinn and their friends provide the conflict, the intrigue and the ultimate climactic scenes.
There are so many things about Passages that I appreciated, but this review is getting quite long. So let me leave you with a list of teasers:
- Goud – is it a gem, a weapon, a pharmaceutical, or…..?
- Transporter technology
- Death Discs
- Long lives and how to avoid overpopulation
- Alphabetical order
- The Waters
In addition to my 5-star recommendation of Passages, I would also like to recommend the series of guest blog posts that Laurel Wanrow did to introduce Passages. You can find the complete list on her guest post at Whiskey With My Book: https://whiskeywithmybook.wordpress.com/2017/02/01/laura-wanrow-author-of-passage-guest-post/. Ms. Wanrow has put a great deal of thought into the world she has created – from the dynamics of the ‘torg social structure – to the biology of a dangerous spore – to the creation of the compelling characters and drama that make up the story of Passages. This one is going on my favorites shelf!
The author provided a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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