A guest review by Jenre
When demon-angel-human hybrids fall in love, it makes them a little crazy. That’s not the worst of it for Regenerie’s Coven of Three. Now that Win, Tole, and Zee are involved in passionate relationships, they can’t generate enough sex-energy with each other to activate their indispensable oracle, the Celestine.
The Dark Elves of Bildezir couldn’t have picked a better time to attempt a takeover of the Utopian Metroplex. Regenerie’s leaders have gone off to seek a solution to their quandary. Their employee Pablo, left behind, decides to party — a little too hard. There’s ample evidence he’s committed a serious indiscretion. Both the Coven’s headquarters and Pablo’s bond with Win end up in shambles.
And here come the elvish warriors.
Kicked to the curb, Pablo has his hands full. He must prove he didn’t betray Win during his night of drunken revelry. And he must figure out how to save both the Coven and the metroplex from a power-hungry, sexually ruthless enemy armed with magic.
What does Pablo have, aside from his love and devotion? A twink named Skeep, a horny mongrel humanoid, and a big blue orb. Good luck.
Finding Utopia is the fourth and final instalment of the Utopia X urban fantasy/futuristic series by K.Z. Snow. The series involves a future Earth which now contains not just humans but ‘Other Beings’ such as vampires, gnomes, wizards and all manner of creatures. The first three books have all followed the romantic journeys of three alterationists, Win, Tole and Zee, hybrid human/demon/angels, Exceptional Beings and the ‘Powers’ of utopian multiplex Regenerie. The purpose of this novella seems to be to round off the series and tie up some of the loose ends that have been kicking about from other books. This means that it’s not a book for those who haven’t read any of the previous books in the series. Having said that, you could probably read this story after the first book, Looking for Some Touch, as long as you don’t mind a few references to Tole and Zee’s lovers plus an occasional mention of some other characters from previous books.
One of these loose ends was in the way that the alterationists used their sexual energy to power an orb called the Celestine. This orb allows them to see into the future or gives advice on how to solve difficult problems, but only if enough sexual energy is poured into it by the alterationists engaging in group sex. Now that each of the men have fallen in love, they are no longer interested in engaging in sex with each other. In order to solve the problem of how to work the orb, the triumvirate take themselves off to the Academy for Exceptional Beings, leaving Pablo, Win’s lover, behind to hold the fort for three days. Pablo decides that an evening out with his old mates is in order. Unfortunately Pablo gets completely wasted and wakes up to find the house trashed, scratches all over his body and a very furious Win holding a knotted used condom. The rest of the story follows Pablo as he tries to find out what had happened the night before, and Win as he deals with what he thinks is Pablo’s infidelity as well as trying to work out who had been in the house.
The thing that I noticed about this book is that it’s missing the breadth and scale of the world building that appears in the other novel-length books in the series. This is mostly due to the story having the same setting – Regenerie – as the first book, so the need for long explanations of the setting isn’t there. However, the book did fill me in with little details showing how things had changed in Regenerie since the first book, such as how the situation for ‘Givers’ has changed, plus one very amusing scene where the alterationists travel in a “Speedwell’s Sling”.
Linking with the above, one area which I found slightly disappointing is that I would have liked to know a bit more about the world of the Dark Elves and felt that the section involving them and their leader Ormegen, was a little glossed over. I wasn’t sure why they wanted to take over Regenerie, other than its wealth, or even why their own kingdom was so bad they felt the need to move out and invade another city. This meant that Ormegen isn’t as complex as some of the villains in previous stories and comes across only as a despot, too concerned about gratifying his own sexual desires to be an effective leader.
In many ways this is more Pablo’s story than Win’s or the other alterationists as we get to see how his transition from ‘Giver’ (the name for state sanctioned prostitutes) to a ‘Pro’ ( a someone from the professional class) has affected him. I found the scenes where he spends time with his old buddies some of the most interesting parts of the book as we see Pablo enjoying himself but also on the edges of his conscious he is aware that his standing in Regenerie society has changed. Win is always on his mind as the love between them has deepened from the first book and there were some lovely scenes between Win and Pablo which showed how much their relationship has developed.
The length of this story means that the other two alterationists are relegated very much to a minor role. As this was Win and Pablo’s story, I didn’t mind that too much, although I finished this book wondering how Sebastian and Zee (from the third book) would cope with their long distance relationship. My one regret is that Ridley doesn’t make an appearance which was a great shame as he’s my favourite character from the series, although there are a few other previously very minor characters who get a bit more of a starring role and I found that Skeep almost stole the book from under Pablo’s nose in a couple of scenes.
Overall, this was a fitting end to the series. The loose ends are satisfactorily tied up; the characters are sent onward to their HEA via a dramatic and thrilling climax; there was a good mix of seriousness and humour; and I finished the book quite happy to say goodbye to the series. It’s difficult not to compare this novella to the longer and more complex stories from the other three books, and in that regard this is definitely the weakest book of the series, but I would still recommend Finding Utopia, to those who have read and enjoyed the other books in the Utopia X series.