By Sharon Fisher
Editions: ebook, paperback
Expected publication: October 30th 2012 by Tor Science Fiction
Genre: Adult Romance / Sci-Fi / Dystopia
Source: review copy
Psychologist Elizabeth Cole prepared for the worst when she accepted a job on a newly discovered world—a world where every colonist is tethered to an alien who manifests in the form of a dead loved one. But she never expected she’d struggle with the requirement to shun these “ghosts.” She never expected to be so attracted to the charming Irishman assigned as her supervisor. And she certainly never expected to discover she died in a transport crash en route to the planet.
As a ghost, Elizabeth is symbiotically linked to her supervisor, Murphy—creator of the Ghost Protocol, which forbids him to acknowledge or interact with her. Confused and alone—oppressed by her ghost status and tormented by forbidden love—Elizabeth works to unlock the secrets of her own existence.
But her quest for answers lands her in a tug-of-war between powerful interests, and she soon finds herself a pawn in the struggle for control of the planet…a struggle that could separate her forever from the man that she loves.
~ Goodreads Blurb
Let’s make one thing clear, before we start: I’m an evil romance reader. Seriously, don’t laugh! I’m a glutton for those stories where at least one if not both characters in the main couple are seriously and soundly tortured before getting any semblance of a ‘happy for now’, let alone a ‘happily ever after’. It feels realistic if they’re tortured first, haha. I can roll with little to no torture, but there’s gotta be the angst at least. That being said, let’s move on to this fabulous book.
This is one of the most ingenious approaches to romance I’ve read this year. The first half of it was a clear 5 butterflies, with cherries and parfaits on top, and everything else that’s yummy and dreamy and just straight up amazing. This first part made me think Solaris a lot, with an Irish version of a George Clooney and all that amazing space feeling, the deep vibe of everything, you know what I mean if you saw Solaris, ok? And Solaris is one of my top 10 all time favorite movies, Clooney’s unreasonable hotness not a criteria (well, maybe a bit :D). The first part of this book put me in exactly that state of mind, it was that sort of creative, spiritually thrilling take on space where the final frontier is ultimately yourself. Just freaking magnificent!
The second part of the book for me was a bit less exciting, just because, well… the most thrilling part is the ambiguity of wondering, thinking, fearing, anticipating, once I start to get enough info it gets less thrilling and thus less exciting to me. I think I was so in love with this first part, with the setting, the atmosphere, the imminent romance state of affairs, all that tension, I would have actually loved to just stay there in that state of mind forever, it was that good.
The romance arc makes an appearance pretty early in the story, and it develops not slowly, but it doesn’t fall in the insta-love category either, it has a balance to it that I liked. The heat level was very tame (for my kinky self, lol), there were couple scenes but we’re not talking graphic amore, more emotional in fact, and some very romantic scenes that I just got all goofy and excited over. Both Elizabeth and Murphy were funny and charismatic, I got very emotionally in tune with Elizabeth and I empathized with her. Though Murphy also made sense and was easy to like and sort of swoon over here and there, I think for me the star of this show was Elizabeth.
The bad guys were devious enough, very dystopian vibe, but I will confess to wishing I’d felt more from them. Remember though, I’m the evil reader type, my reading pleasure is dramatic conflict enough to flood a small (to medium) country.
So, from the thrill point of view, the first part of the story was, simply put, epic. But then the ongoing romance (as opposed to imminent in the first) kicked in stronger in the second part, as the thrill went down the feeling went up, so to speak. It was a very cool mix and it had an interesting impact on me as a reader. After getting used to only bits of the story in a book because it’s part of a series, getting the whole story in one book might be sort of disorienting, I guess. But this is one of those books that give you the full story in this sort of beautiful stand alone-ish manner. I don’t know at this point if we can expect a series around it, but this couple got through a lot just in this novel, poor guys, lol.
The plot is really interesting, Elizabeth arrives on this planet thinking she’s alive and well and going to work there, but she finds out she’s a ‘ghost’ in fact, she died on the transport. It was really interesting to follow her as she adapted to the ‘ghost’ status, because these guys have a special status and people have a protocol in dealing with them. Murphy has a really interesting reaction to Elizabeth, and their dynamic is the sort that gets you smiling and tearing your hair out all at once – the really good kind, in my opinion. As the plot develops and their relationship does as well, my interest kept bouncing from one of them to the other in regards to adapting to new situations and their reactions. I generally tend to have only one focus, but here they were both catching my eye, it made for a fuller, richer reading experience.
I loved the writing and the world building, they were simply put, amazing. I was just so pulled into this world, I felt it all around me as I read, it made crystal clear sense and it fascinated me. The third person narrative gave me a nice perspective on the story, and I liked the fact that plenty of characters had their own strong voices, they were built strongly all around, even those making a more like fleeting appearance made perfect sense as far as motivations went, there was no confusion, no “uhm…” moments. I loved that. What I also highly appreciated was the fact that the sci-fi world, futuristic, sort of post-apocalyptic biopunk dystopian, didn’t try to steal the show but it was well built and logical all through ans so good, I think it was my main crush from this book – a very rare happening.
Curb appeal, off the chart, just look at that cover! It’s obvious this is an original take on romance in space, there’s no half naked alien on the cover 😀 And the art does give you a vibe that the world of the read does too, very nature-y and cleansing, somehow.
All in all, this was a really entertaining read, I loved it and had a great time reading it. I’ll be on the lookout for more from this author, I completely love the way her mind works. If you like romance in sci-fi/futuristic dystopian worlds, and if you liked the 2002 movie Solaris, this is a total romance must read.