Book Review: Seeker of the Four Winds, C.D. Verhoff (2014)

Friday, May 16th, 2014

If you liked Promised Land

two out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free electronic copy of this book for review through Library Thing’s Member Giveaways program. Also, minor spoilers ahead as well as a trigger warning for discussions of rape.)

If anything, this book taught me an important lesson: Never request a sequel for review before reading the previous books in the series. Just don’t do it!

In my defense, I really expected to love Promised Land. I really didn’t. While Verhoff has some really interesting and exciting ideas – time travel to a future Earth that’s home to countless humanoid species chief among them – the story doesn’t quite live up to its potential. While future Earth does indeed make for an engaging setting, I had trouble relating to many of the characters. In particular, I was put off by Red the Second; he didn’t strike me as an especially charismatic or compelling leader, and I had trouble believing that all but the most evangelical Galatians would follow him across a strange new land, with only his cryptic proclamations about “God’s will” to guide them. Pacing problems and sloppy editing abounded, as did problematic language: protagonist Lars, who suffers from Erb’s Palsy, was continually called a “cripple,” and by a number of characters. Josie slut shamed older sister Feenie more than once, though this was thankfully cut short by Feenie’s death early in the book. The single sex scene – between Red and his wife – was as icky as it was unnecessary, and the magical rape scene involving Magus, Feenie, and Barret was just straight-up appalling.

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Book Review: Promised Land, C.D. Verhoff (2013)

Monday, April 21st, 2014

So close!

three out of five stars

(Caution: minor spoilers ahead.)

Over fifty years ago, an alien race called the Celeruns made themselves known to the world’s governments. A colonizing species, their intentions were anything but peaceable; rather, Earth’s alien invaders unleashed a plague specially bioengineered to destroy humanity. While most people did indeed succumb to the plague, a small minority not only survived, but thrived: altered genes gave them special abilities called “charismas.” The ability to see the past through the eyes of those who have lived it; to float objects with one’s mind; to bring forth new plant life in the blink of an eye. A slowing of the aging process, resulting in near-immortality. Visions and prophecies. Basically every superpower you can imagine.

Tired of waiting for humanity to peter out slowly, the Celeruns sent in soldiers to finish off the stragglers. Following a principle popular among middle schoolers – “If I can’t have this planet, then no one can” – the survivors decided to trigger a nuclear Armageddon rather than allow Earth to fall into alien hands. Minus their leader Red the First – who perished on a suicide mission – the surviving members sought refuge in an underground military bunker in Ohio, patiently waiting for the day when the planet would regenerate and become habitable again.

Fast-forward forty years. The Galatians – as this community now calls itself – are forced topside, generations ahead of schedule, when a cave-in and resulting fire destroy their home. They emerge to find a wasteland; crowds of stunned refugees choke the bunker’s exits, choosing death by fire over the hellscape that was once America. Moved by his people’s anguish, Red the Second – who succeeded his mother as Mayor of Galatia – attempts to use his charisma to green the planet. At first blush, it appears to work: noxious yellow fumes are replaced by blue skies and lush plant life in a matter of seconds. Only later will the Galatians learn that Red actually thrust them forward in time – to the tune of a hundred thousand years, give or take a millennia.

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