Monday, 25 August 2008

Slave to Sensation - Nalini Singh

So you may remember a few weeks ago I found out I hadn't posted quite as many reviews as I thought I had. As it was the Psy/Changeling reviews that were noticeable by their absence and as Hostage to Pleasure is to be imminently released I thought we'd start with them.

Slave to Sensation is an alternative history paranormal, set in the year 2079 on an Earth populated by three races: the Psy - emotionless and cold, the shapeshifting Changelings who rely on their animal instincts, and humans. Although technically it is alternative history it has a very urban fantasy feel. I think the AH allows certain things to happen that might have been constrained by straight UF.

From the moment that Lucas Hunter (Changeling) and Sascha Duncan (Psy) meet there is a chemistry between them that fairly leaps off the page. This causes conflict as Lucas is a creature of instinct and sensation, whilst Sascha must maintain a facade of logic and efficiency at all costs.

Although it is the love story between Lucas and Sascha that is the driving force behind the narrative. The reason this book works so well is because you can immerse yourself in the world that Nalini Singh has created. The dynamics of both pack (Changeling) and Psy life are well-explained and the book is populated with interesting characters that give the story an added depth. And at the same time leave you wanting to know more about them. :)

One of the things I like is that it's made clear that both species are equally capable of brutality. Psy who don't conform to the acceptable standards of the Silence live with the constant threat of rehabilitation (mind-wiping) at the Center. Whilst the Changelings live under a territorial law that can erupt into violence. However, the reader does come down on the side of the Changeling way of life with its emphasis on family and pack.

Slave to Sensation illustrates not only the division between Psy and Changeling but also the divisions within those communities as well. Different Changeling groups have to fight against their need to dominate in order to work together. Something the Psy have taken advantage of in the past. And the Psy need for perfection, for conformity is equally divisive in its own way.

Looking back on the series five books in, I find I'm preferring the stories with a Psy hero/heroine. Much as some people prefer werewolves over vampires. That's not to say I don't enjoy the other stories, I think Nalini Singh is a great storyteller and I have yet to not be completely pulled into the Psy/Changeling world. But there's something about the Psy falling in love that works for me.

There are one or two slips in Slave to Sensation, but when the standard of storytelling is this high, they are easily forgiven. This is one of the best paranormals I've read and I would rank it along with Kelley Armstrong's Otherworld series and Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson. With each book the strength of the worldbuilding grows and I think a lot of that is down to the foundation laid in this book.

Also available:-
Visions of Heat
Caressed by Ice
Mine to Possess
Hostage to Pleasure


DonnaB said...

I love these books! So far, it's running every other book that really grabs me, so Slave to Sensation I thought was fantastic, then Caressed by Ice.


Naomi said...

I absolutely adored StS, couldn't wait to read VoH, and then found myself rather let down by it. I didn't like Vaughn at all, and I hated the generic paranormal romance "MINE!" moment he had with Faith. It's put me buying the others in the series, although I think Singh is incredibly talented.

LesleyW said...

Donna - a bit like Star Trek movies then. Only I think it's the even numbered ones that are meant to be better.

Naomi - I think a lot of people who really loved StS, didn't get on quite as well with VoH. But I would strongly encourage you to try Caressed by Ice. Judd is by far and away my favourite of Nalini Singh's heroes.

li said...

I loved Caressed by Ice too - by far my favourite in the series. Even though I hate the cover :-)

Looking back at the first four books, I think VoH was my least favourite. Agree with Naomi that it was a bit generic paranormal romance.

I'm enjoying the overall plot arc that she's slowly revealing - can't wait to get HtP!

LesleyW said...

Li - I have HTP! I think Amazon UK have got it in early.