Rating: 4.5 stars
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Koby doesn’t want to go to Antarctica to work for the facility that mines parium, but part of his scholarship agreement dictates that he must. As a scientist hoping to specialize in living and dead tissues existing together, Koby’s primary focus will be vampire blood and tissue. Despite how little he respects Nate Carron, the manager of the facility, and how much his lawyer friend, Ivo, who works for vampires’ rights tells him that the prisoners who mine the parium there are mistreated, Koby is at least excited about getting to work with actual vampires for the first time. He knows this is an important first step in his career.
The Dome, which houses the research facility, is not at all what Koby expects when he arrives—beautiful and well-appointed living quarters, great lab facilities, and a large number of hydroponically-grown plants. The prison isn’t what Koby expects either. Koby knows that the vampires incarcerated here are criminals, found guilty by a jury of their peers, but he’s appalled at the conditions that they’re kept in. Then he finds out that the parium gas they mine is actually poisonous to vampires, meaning that a life sentence in the mine is really a slow, excruciating death sentence. Koby is determined to do something about it and with the help of his friend Ivo at home, other scientists who feel the same way, and one of the vampire prisoners they hatch a plan to let the world know what’s going on here in the ice, despite the great risk to them personally.
As dangerous a man as Nathan Carron is, helping the vampires escape and overthrow Nathan’s command would be enough to worry about, but Koby’s also got this strange attraction to Mircea, the vampire leading the escape plan, to deal with too. He’s not sure how deep this attraction runs or if there’s even a chance at a future for them when this plan of theirs may not even be successful, but he can’t get the vampire out of his head. Koby’s got to figure out if he can manage to fix the mine and his love life all at the same time.
Right out of the gate I’m just going to say that I wish this book was twice as long. What was here was absolutely fantastic, but I just wanted more. With it being a novella, I felt like the ideas here could have been explored in so much more depth, especially since they were such great, original ideas. Most of the focus was on the actual overthrowing of the prison management, but there was so much other material here that I wanted explored in further depth.
I loved Koby. He was smart and compassionate and not afraid to act when he knew he had to, but he was also unsure and confused over his growing feelings for Mircea. In fact, one of my new favorite lines all time is:
Koby sighed. “Okay. It was…very confusing, meeting you,” he said.
Mircea I connected with a lot less, but that’s mostly because he just isn’t around for most of the book; his character isn’t even introduced until halfway through. I really liked what I saw from him though. He was charming and considerate and a little quirky, with a very quiet, subtle sense of humor. His character is definitely something I would have liked to see more of.
As far as their romance goes, I think they fit together well as a couple, but there really wasn’t much romance here. In fact most of their interaction is nothing but sexual tension and the farthest they get by the end of the book is a first date. Which was okay, and I enjoyed their buildup. I just liked them so much that I really wanted to see where their relationship took them and we just didn’t get that. I also would have loved if things in terms of external conflict wouldn’t have moved so quickly and it would have given them time for more interaction before everything went to hell. I think I could have swallowed the ending a lot better had there been more to the genesis of this romance.
Plotwise, I have to say I was in love with this. It was such an original idea and it revolved around something I am very passionate about—treatment of prisoners—so I was enthralled by the goings on. But here too I would have loved to see a little more meat on the bones. Everything moves at such a fast pace: the day after Koby sees the conditions of the prison he’s plotting to mount a coup, and really it kept the tension at a high level but it really felt like we never really got to settle in and roll around in this story like I wanted to.
This book was written beautifully and it moved along at a fast pace which made it impossible to put down and the action scenes were by far my favorite. I’d recommend it for anyone who’s a fan of sci-fi, futuristic stories, fans of stories revolving around civil rights, or for those who don’t mind a little romance with their plot as opposed to the other way around.