Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Burn Zone by James Decker - Review

The Burn Zone
James Decker
Feb 2013

cover - YES.  here is a cover that actually represents the main character - a girl, a tough girl who is obviously ready for a fight...

Well.  Sometimes I read a book and I don't enjoy it, don't finish it and then don't review it.  Other times, I read a book and enjoy the hell out of it but for some (lazy) reason, I put off writing the review because.....I don't why.  Who knows what's going on in my head?  I don't.  This time, I read The Burn Zone, loved it, put off reviewing it and then when I FINALLY decide to review, I find out that not only is this guy a "debut" author of The Burn Zone, he's also an author of a trilogy of books under the name of James Knapp.  I don't pretend to understand all the reasons for using different names, but in this case it doesn't matter to me, especially when I haven't read anything under either of the names.  How many of you have steered away from reading a certain genre (coughromancecough - coughbodicerippercough) only to pick up an interesting looking URBAN fantasy book and then read it, find it vaguely disturbingly romance like (or totally like a romance) novel, and THEN find out that - yes - the reason said book reads like a romance is because the author has been writing romance for 500 YEARS, making it a bit hard to write a book that doesn't read like a romance with paranormal elements.  And then there's the whole OOh, I'm not soandso author, oh no, and other fans go on the attack, how dare you even ask, etc, and then a year or so later it turns out it WAS  a certain author, for some reason keeping it completely SECRET....ahhhh I digress (and possibly sound a little disturbed er bitter) let's just get back to THIS book. 

So, as I was sayin', James Knapp, James Decker - same guy, not a secret, no rabid fans ready to attack me (I hope) - either way, this James guy can write a hell of a good story.

First of all, let me remind y'all, it's been almost a year since I read The Burn Zone.  And when I finished it, it kept echoing in my mind.  That's a pretty good book.  Now let's see if I can remember enough to write a coherent review.

Set in the future, and in Asia, life has become...hard to live.   Most of the masses are living hand to mouth, eating some kind of nutrient cake made of some kind of insect byproduct (gross, right?).  One of the reasons people are so poor and food challenged, is that a huge spaceship landed in a section of a city, instantly killing millions of people - and one of the results is a treaty between the nation and the spaceship occupants to divert a percentage of food to the aliens as well as provide women surrogates for their young.  It's complicated, and much more to the story, but the Haan (the aliens) are supposed to be fragile.

One of the women taking part in the incubation/foster - Sam Shao has started life out in difficult circumstances.  Seems there are these meat providers who aren't particular about what kind of meat they provide - she was saved at the last minute by a cop, who later adopted her.  When the story starts, she's been living with him for a while, he's away on a trip, and she's just coming home and is taking care of her haan baby.  He barely comes home when their apartment is raided, cops are there to arrest her father.  Since she's been enhanced to sense the haan infant needs, she also is able to sense things about one of the cops - and it seems like this cop is actually a not so fragile Haan.

She escapes the raid, and is on the run for pretty much the rest of the book.  One of her goals is to find her father, who has disappeared into the depths of ....where ever prisoners end up when they're so expedient.  There's a conspiracy afoot.

Besides the main plot, Decker has weaved a pretty rich atmosphere - future gadgets, like motorcycles that can fly, space travel, air travel, computer whizzes, one who is a friend to Sam, a crowded city full of people who cannot be trusted and danger at every turn.  Sam has to stay clear of meat slavers and from the police who seem to be able to find her wherever she goes.  Despite seemingly hopeless odds, Sam begins to make a little headway into the mystery of why her father - a respected cop - is being accused of treason and where he ends up.  She takes a huge risk attempting to rescue her father and finds way more than she ever dreamed.  There's much more to the conspiracy than she suspected.

Everything about this story works - the setting, the aliens, the creepy people, the disgusting black market human meat thing, the dialog,'s all packaged in a hell of a novel.    The cover notes that it's part of the Burn Zone series, so I am hoping to read more of this story.  A very enjoyable and at times disturbing read.

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