Sunday, December 23, 2012

Book Review: Redlisted by Sara Beaman


Author: Sara Beaman

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Synopsis: Kate wakes from a gunshot wound to find herself dependent on the blood of the man who shot her. She can’t remember who she is and her own face in the mirror is unfamiliar. As she tries to unravel the mystery of her own identity, she’s swept along on a covert mission she barely understands.

Revenants, a vampiric race of post-mortals, maneuver for power in the world of plastic surgery, internet conspiracy theories, and information-stifling media conglomerates. Those who can control dream and memory muddy the waters as the mission converges on a underground bunker and the key to a source of eldritch power. Kate must uncover her past and tease apart clues to her companions’ urgent mission so she can take a stand before it’s too late to act.

Brought you by TeamNerd Reviewer Annabell Cadiz

Note: Contains minor spoilers.

Review: Have you ever wondered what it would be like if your face was changed to look like exactly someone else? What about your voice and your eye color? What if your memories were stripped away and replaced with the person’s face you replicated? What if your dreams weren’t your own but showed you another person’s life? What if vampires were the ones behind the control of memories and dreams?

That’s the basic premise behind the plot of Redlisted.

Sounds really interesting, right? Sounds like a crazy concept unique enough to work, right?

Well there were definitely great aspects to the book, not everything in Redlisted executed the concept and plot as good as the author was hoping for.

Let’s begin with the how the book is broken down. Each chapter is narrated by the leading characters, Kate and Adam. There is one chapter narrated by Julian, who is Adam’s vampiric creator so to speak and one chapter narrated by Mnemosyne, Julian’s mother and extremely powerful Revenant.

I do enjoy first person narration and I do enjoy chapters switching between different character points of view. The problem in Redlisted was with how the author chose to showcase the narration through the characters. The book begins with a no name character narrating and the reader does not find out the ‘Anonymous’ character is Kate until 100 pages in which was extremely frustrating since everything that happens prior to that point in the book makes little sense. What made the confusion even worse was the fact that the ‘Anonymous’ chapters were not Kate’s memories but Adam’s memories. She would dream of him and tell his story. The narration was broken down not only in first person but also in secondary person within the same chapter then flipped back and forth from present tense to past tense. It took a while for my mind to be able to wrap around the narration and truth be told, I don’t think I was ever really able to. As a reader that made enjoying the read difficult because I was constantly distracted by attempting to understand who was speaking, what was happening, and why it was necessary to care.

Kate, who is the supposed heroine of the tale, is rather useless throughout most of the book. She finally commits an act worthy of mention toward the end and only manages to do so with help. Her character spent the majority of the novel whinny, dreaming about Adam thus revealing his story, and blacking out. I almost gave up reading on the book from how many times I had to read Kate having another black out spell. She didn’t present any real use to the book other than to serve as the conduit for Adam’s story to be told and sole survivor of Mirabel’s evil plan. She had no real personality and she was rather boring to read.
Adam, the second main character and hero of the tale, was a far more appealing read. He is a man who is broken in heart and soul. He is angry, bitter, and resentful but underneath his anguish to understand his role behind the plans of the Revenants is a man desperately seeking out hope and forgiveness. Maybe even redemption. He still manages to hang onto his humanity, to kindness. His character was relatable and real. I enjoyed learning about Adam’s story, his struggles to expect what he had lost and what he became against his will, and how he was attempting to find a way to move past it.

Julian was another character I liked. He is a powerful leader in the Revenant community with a regal yet dark tone to his persona. He is wise and can show compassion but he is also ruthless and possessive. I liked being able to be shown his war between remaining in the light and giving in to the dark. I wouldn’t mind reading a novella created just for his character.
There are also a few secondary characters that come into play. Aya, a vampire who serves Julian, and Haruko, who is a Warden. Aya’s character felt as if she was created to fill a gap in the plot and not a very good one. Her personality is robotic and slightly manic depressive. She doesn’t really have much of a personality and I didn’t see any real use for her. Haruko, on the other hand, was a pretty kick-butt character. I wouldn’t want to be caught alone with her anywhere! She’s quick on her feet and even faster with her hands. She’s also got a crude mouth to back her up. I also liked the powers she has a Warden—she can find other revenants and keeps them in check.

The world building was difficult to decipher because of how confusing the execution was of the story was. There are some aspects I enjoyed, like the way Julian’s house was set up like a maze and constantly changing. I also liked the old world when Julian’s story is told. The pacing is incredibly choppy because again, the chapters were told from both first and second person, from past to present to past again so as a reader, I couldn’t get my bearings straight. The suspense managed to somehow stay taunt and intense despite the lack of organization to execution. There was a decent amount of action, the most coming toward the end which was dark and pretty terrifying since it involved a big battle with ghouls.

Redlisted is a book that had a refreshing take on the world of vampires and humans. The idea of a person being made into a doppelgänger through plastic surgery instead of born to look like one and the idea of a vampiric race holding all the cards to humanity’s salvation, are wonderfully clever concepts. But dear lord, could the author PLEASE execute the concepts better in the sequel?!

I have decided that I will read the next installment in Beaman’s series because I am curious to know what will happen with the characters, with the secretive character who helped Adam but has yet to reveal herself, with the cliffhanger ending. Also, because Redlisted is a book that stays with you after you’ve finished reading it. Even though pissed off from the lack of sense in the plot and not fully comprehending just what the hell actually happened in the story, it’s a book that makes you question the choices you make in life, the choices you make with who you trust, and the choices you make when death may just be another journey into a different way of living—one you don’t willingly get to sign up for.

I look forward to seeing how Beaman grows as an author and how she grows in morphing this series. I do recommend she start organizing her ideas, characters, and storyline far better than she did with her debut. I also recommend studying writing first person narration a bit more so the pesky “I” doesn’t overtake the cadence of the sentence structure.

But with Redlisted, Beaman shows great promise.

About the Author: Sara Beaman lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she spends her time teaching and performing bellydance, making jewelry out of old junk, reading, playing tabletop roleplaying games, and writing. Sara enjoys speculative fiction of all stripes, but especially that which makes her question the world she lives in.

She is the author of Redlisted, a novel about vampires, the media, and hidden memories. She is also a contributor to the upcoming post-apocalyptic anthology Doom Days. 
She is currently at work on two projects: the sequel to Redlisted, and an as-yet-unnamed dystopian dieselpunk fantasy.

Where to Find the Author

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