Rating: DNF
Buy Link:
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Length: Novel


Volaria, your home away from Earth.

Humans are no longer alone; they have been joined by Arcanes, Lycans, and Vampires. It’s been over a hundred years since the Earth went through The Shift. Where once almost eight billion humans lived, the population now holds at four billion. But that wasn’t the only change. No one anticipated the branching of human DNA to produce new species of humans. Arcanes, Lycans, and Vampires are hidden throughout the genome, awaiting puberty before they manifest distinctly unhuman abilities. Finally, the new species of man were welcomed. No longer studied or treated as outcasts by most. People accepted these new humans and they integrated into society, albeit not easily. This allowed the UN Government to focus on colonizing space, in order to secure a future for all.

Risks remain however, permitting a vampire to feed from you can cause shared memories. Tobin Corsian took such a risk. He resides in a newly reopened district of San Jose, California, where his family’s old home stood. He lives there with his friend Mikel, a Lycan, and his dog Begger. Instead of making his mandatory monthly blood donation at the government blood bank for the vampire community, Tobin decides, with the help of his therapist, to visit Biter, a vampire spa. The spa allows vampires to feed from humans directly while providing spa and sexual services, granting the donor a three-month reprieve from their required donations. Tobin’s encounter at Biter opens a window to his past and an experience he had as a child on the moon. Questions abound as he tries to unravel his past and make sense of his life.

I call this book a slow burn because, at the 73% mark where I stopped, Tobin had thought about leaving Earth, talked about leaving Earth, and made plans to leave Earth and visit the vampire city of Volaria on the dark side of the moon; he had thought about packing, had packed, had gotten to Volaria, and then explored his hotel, and I read a highly detailed examination of his room. I could feel the plot right around the corner, but it was taking too long to get there.

I’ve read two previous books by this author (also involving vampires) and was taken by two things. The first was how well Neu got into a character’s emotions, into the heart and soul of their pain, of who they were as people, who they wanted to be, and how others perceived them. The second was that Neu’s vampires were among my favorites. They felt old, alien, and other. And unfortunately, all of that felt lacking in this book.

Some 75 years ago, the human world experienced the Shift, which created vampires, lycans, and arcanes. And now, humans have to give monthly blood deposits by government decree … but why? I did not get the impression that vampires were in charge of Earth or of Earth’s government, so why does every single person have to give blood every month? Lycans … exist. Arcane practitioners study at colleges. There are magical police, not to be mistaken for mundane police, but I didn’t get any feel of purpose or sense to any of this; just that it exists. There are also colonies on Mars and somewhere is Voyager Station and a Gateway Station, but those felt like throw away mentions in the part I read. In all of the world building, the most believable part of this whole book is that there is a place called Lunar Disney. But why is the moon’s Disney park in the vampire city, and not in the more popular human one?

Volaria, the idea of it, is what sold me on this book. Because the thought of a vampire city on the dark side of the moon just sounds cool. And there were hints in the portion of the book I read of some great disaster that left only one of the first vampires alive, but I honestly had trouble caring about him. Malifo, the oldest and most powerful vampire, waxes and wanes between being polite and deferential to sighing about his fate, obsessing over a boy he’s never met, and preening about how he likes old fashioned things like pens. Malifo and all the other vampires — like the lycan and arcane side characters — didn’t feel “other.” They didn’t feel like anything but another form of human. They talked the same, reacted the same, and felt the same.

Likewise, Tobin, just felt like an everyman going through the motions so that the story could happen to him. Who may or may not have a mental disorder or be possessed. Because Tobin has a voice in his head … or doesn’t? It’s referred to as either a guardian or caretaker, or maybe the guardian voice and the caretaker voice are different entities? Perhaps this would have been explained had I finished the book, but Tobin never reacted to them — not a comment, not a thought — even when they spoke to him.

Along with the weight of filler that felt like it takes up so much of the book, repeating points that had already been established or describing rooms and floorplans in great detail, there are also technical issues with the book. There are lot of expository info dumps to establish the world, which can come across as very forced, such as when Tobin is explaining to Mikel, his lycan housemate, why vampires don’t like lycan blood. He is explaining Mikel’s genetic condition … to Mikel, as though Mikel, the lycan, has never heard of lycans.

There are also small typos through the book, such as devise instead of device, or pour dear instead of poor dear, and tense changes going from third person to first:

He and his family were purebloods. This is probably why his parents were so leery about vamps. We didn’t have any in the family.

There are also a lot of sentences with commas in place of periods, leading to strange, run-on sentences:

“See, now that is being selfish, shouldn’t I get to have some fun, I mean, I’m going to have to stay here and take care of the house, the garden, Begger and still work, while you are off having all kinds of fun.”

I struggled with this book, unable to connect to the characters or take interest in the heavy blocks of world building that felt surface deep and clumsily shoehorned in. It was too much filler, not enough character development, and in the end, I just wasn’t enjoying it enough to finish it.

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