Galley Provided by Random House/Ballantine for an honest review.
Regina’s Review – 3.5 Stars – Grade B
This book was highly anticipated for me. I really enjoy Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series and while irrelevant, I think her public persona is pretty amazing. I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review. The first 270 pages of the book was really good and I couldn’t put the book down. But the last 240 pages dragged for me. I think it may be a first book in a series issue. The passion is there, the romances are believable and the world created is unique and very interesting; the excitement just didn’t last through the entire book.
I am a long time fan of Suzanne Brockmann’s Troubleshooters series. The Troubleshooters series is rich in great character development and interesting struggles, but in addition to that, the Troubleshooters series offers readers a great romance or two in each book. Brockmann has this ability to slowly unravel the story while writing great characters and while the characters get to know each other, so do the readers. She has interwoven storylines and characters that come back into focus in subsequent books even though their romance has been written. Reading her Troubleshooters series is like sitting down with long time friends – in a way similar to theVirgin Riverseries by Carr and the Black Dagger Brotherhood series by Ward. Not that the way those authors write is similar or that their storyline is similar; I am referring only to the interwoven stories and the return of characters who are a constant to the storyline. Ms. Brockmann has promised that her new series – Fighting Destiny – will be similar in this respect. If you haven’t already you can read her review that we did here and here. Ms Brockmann talks about how she writes characters and what to look forward to with her two ongoing series.
Born to Darkness is the start of Brockmann’s new Fighting Destiny series. There is a pre-quel to Born to Darkness called Shane’s Last Stand. It is not necessary to read the pre-quel, although it is an enjoyable quick read. Born to Darkness is set in the future several decades out from the present and clear changes have happened to American society and the American government. There has been an economic collapse and the majority of Americans are suffering economically. To magnify the problems most Americans are experiencing, the infrastructure in the US is collapsing – for example, police stations charge fees to investigate crimes. Corporations have clear control over society, culture and the government. The U.S.is taking on military missions driven by corporations and many civil rights belonging toU.S.citizens have been curtailed by new austere laws. It is a dark and scary time. That dystopian setting is where Born to Darkness begins. However, the world building does not end there.
A few scientists in this future world have uncovered some people’s potential to utilize more than 10% of their brainpower at a time. Some people have the ability to utilize 40%, 50%, and some up to 70% of their brain at one point in time. Those people who can use greater than 10% of their brain power at any given moment are called “Greater Thans” (i.e. greater than 10%) and those that use 10% or less are called “Fractions” (i.e. a fraction of 10%). The Greater Thans have greater than normal human power – -typically telekinetic and self-healing capabilities. Although some can fly and breathe fire. There is an organization focused on using these powers for good and developing the powers of others and it has the feel of a “brotherhood” or hey—the SEALs (Brockmann’s forte). There is also an X-Men feeling to the powers people have and how these people with powers, or the Greater Thans, join together.
The world Brockmann creates is believable and scary. The characters are likeable. The romance is sweet and passionate. Born to Darkness is a big book, similar to her later Troubleshooters books – -it is 510 pages. I sped through the first 270 pages or so and loved every minute of those pages. I was completely invested in the storyline. However, the story evened out for me after that and I did have the urge to skim (which embarrassingly I succumbed to). I felt that there were too many romances and hook ups happening – 6 characters paired up in to 3 pairs almost seemingly too easily. They all loved each other and meshed at the halfway point of the book. I think this is simply a first book in a series, a strong world is created and not everything clicked for me perfectly with it. I didn’t buy into all of the couplehoods and I was disappointed at the distraction from the fabulous world that Brockmann had written. I wanted more of the dystpoia and the struggle happening in this depressing future. And while I normally really appreciate point of view shifts, particularly how Brockmann writes them, in Born to Darkness I felt like it prevented me from really getting to know any one of the 6 or 7 characters that the point of view switched to and from. As a disclosure, I am not a fan of Brockmann’s Tall Dark and Dangerous series or her stand-alones. So my issues may be unique to what I was looking for – I am guessing that readers who enjoy her TDD series or her standalones may really like this book.
I absolutely plan on reading #2 in the Fighting Destiny series. Readers who are fans of any of Brockmann’s books will enjoy Born to Darkness. Readers who like sci fi romance or dystopia based romance will likely enjoy this – just be ready to commit for 510 pages!
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