Rating: 3.75 stars
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Trev Damico is an excellent thief and hacker. He’s also the youngest son of a very rich, very powerful, very controlling man. When Trev decides he wants to escape his father’s clutches, he makes a deal with an associate. But Trev’s father finds out, and Trev’s plans get ruined. He ends up in a maximum security prison, with no hope of release for years.
Khim is a vat-grown human, derogatorily known as androids, despite being fully flesh and blood. He was grown to be a solider, but when he’s injured, he’s resold as a pleasure slave. It wasn’t what he was trained for, and the rape sends him over the edge. Though he was only defending himself, he too winds up in prison.
Khim knows he cannot have another mark against him or he will be killed. So even though he despises Trev because of Trev’s family, he makes a deal for Trev’s protection. But the bond between them quickly grows into real friendship. When an incident happens, Trev knows he must get them out. It takes careful planning, but they are able to escape prison.
But despite their harrowing journey, they cannot escape Trev’s father’s clutches. Once again in the Damico house, Trev knows he can’t stay. Not only does he want to be free of his father, but he can’t stand being separated from Khim. He makes another daring plan, one riding on his love for Khim. But if they can’t pull it off, they will both face the worst of consequences.
I definitely came away from this book with mixed feelings. On the one hand, the world building was wonderful and creative. A futuristic society with all the requsite technology, beautifully described so it was easy to picture and get lost in. I really enjoyed the world, and the way the author carefully explained the ins and outs so there were no plot holes. And I really enjoyed both Trev and Khim. But that being said, I found the pacing to be a bit off in places, and some of the narrative to be overly poetic, which pulled me out of the story time and again.
Trev is one of those anti-heroes that’s easy to love. Yes, he does unlawful things. But he also has a strong moral compass and a big heart, so there’s a limit to what he will do. When he forges the bond with Khim, you see his loyalty and you know he will stop at nothing to keep the man safe. Khim was also wonderfully drawn. As a vat-grown human, he has a particular way of speaking and his experiences and programming have shaped him in a certain way. I really loved his consistency especially, and his growth as he came to make his own choices. Together, these guys fit perfectly and it’s easy to see their connection and to believe that they will do whatever is necessary to keep each other safe. Their love grew from their friendship, and it was completely believable. Khim’s dislike of Trev at the beginning was solid, and I liked watching him come to like Trev, and then feel more, as he got to know the man.
But I had a hard time getting into this story. While the first third of the book was filled with necessary scenes and information, I also felt like I was waiting for the action to really get going. It was hard to engage fully with the story as there was always this sense of getting through that part and to really get to the meat of the story for me. Once it really got going, I was totally on board, and part of that was the feeling of finally the action was happening. So that was a bit of a drawback for me. There were also some minor plot points that felt unfinished for me, and I would have liked to see a bit more conclusion where they were concerned.
I also need to make a note here that there is on page rape in the story. Though not described in great detail, it’s still there. I’ll admit I had to take a step back and think about why it was depicted and not just spoken of later, but it is an important part to the plot. I would have also liked to see more of the character dealing with it after. Yes, it was taken into consideration, and given the character, the reactions and feelings made some sense. But I felt a little bit like it wasn’t dealt with fully enough.
This story had a lot going for it and I really enjoyed parts of it. Despite the slower beginning, I was drawn into the tale and really rooting for the characters. The ending was satisfying with an incredibly strong HFN that could easily translate to an HEA. If you’re looking for a futuristic sci fi with great characters, this might just be the one for you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.
I’m coming to this review late as I was searching the site to see if you’d reviewed any books by Wendy Rathbone. I just read and enjoyed her epistolary novel, Letters to an Android, which also features a vat-grown human. I’m adding The Android and the Thief to my list now. Thanks for your review, Kris.