Title: Bonding (Himiko #1)
Author: CB Conwy
Publisher: Self Published
Buy link: Amazon.com (Second Edition)
Genre: Science Fiction M/M
Length: 58K Words, 209 pb pages
Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5
Summary Review: Even though I enjoyed this book there were many questions that weren’t answered.
Ever wondered why love stories talk about finding “your better half”? Matt hadn’t, really. Not until humanity got its biggest surprise ever: the arrival of intelligent life from space. The Himika may look reassuringly human, but their unexplained behavior and eerie silence have strained relations between human and alien.
When Matt is “harvested” — kidnapped — by the Himika, he’s terrified. Nothing makes sense until he wakes up wrapped in Pietr’s arms. Pietr may be the most annoying, smug, sarcastic humanoid Matt has ever met. He’s also Matt’s bonded mate. Plato was right.
Everybody really does have a better half, and against everyone’s better judgment, it seems Pietr belongs with Matt.
But learning how to communicate the Himiko way (preferably without killing himself or Pietr in the process) is hard, and Matt’s mentor, Aki, might be even more aggravating than Pietr. It doesn’t help when Matt develops powers that not even the Himika understand. Matt isn’t sure he’s going to make it — or if he’ll have to let Pietr go in order to keep his mate safe and sane.
I started this book with pretty high expectations. Based on the blurb, this is the type of story I love to read – alien contact, humans captured and harvested, world building etc. Well the “alien contact” part was right and the “harvesting” to a much lesser degree than I anticipated. The rest, not so much.
The story opened with the information that a year after humans found out they weren’t alone in the universe everything changed for them, and not in a positive way. During that first year many humans had been captured or “harvested” by the Himika who seemed to be intellectually superior and much more advanced technologically. The few humans who returned home after they were harvested either committed suicide, were admitted to psychiatric institutions, or were a shadow of their former selves. No one talked about their experience with the aliens or what happened to those who never returned.
Matt was lecturing at his old university one day when several Himika entered the room and he realized that they had come for him. He was terrified and almost paralyzed with fear and the knowledge that life as he knew it was over; he had no choice but to go with them as there were three Himika and none of his students seemed inclined to help him. He was driven to a holding area where many other humans were chained and treated like cattle and they seemed to be in varying stages of mental breakdown. After he was initially processed and was being moved to another area Matt’s tendency to quick anger couldn’t be contained and he made his presence felt, even though he knew that there was nothing he could do to help his fellow man or woman. He broke away from his guards and ran back into the holding area and started shouting. When he asked who was in charge, a lone Himiko with the name tag “Pietr” came forward and looked at him without saying a word and then Matt blacked out. When he woke up he was being cared for by a Himiko doctor, Robbie, and it was then evident why they never spoke – they had no need to because they communicated with each other telepathically and could read minds.
Matt was given a metal band or shield to wear over his head when he woke up so that his thoughts would not overload the Himika who were sensitive to noise. When Matt and Robbie went to the dining area to have something to eat Matt saw Pietr again and stared at him which made him react strangely as if he were drowning in Pietr’s eyes, so he removed his shield and all hell broke loose because Pietr along with other Himika fell to the ground unconscious. When Pietr was revived it seemed that there was another complication – he had bonded with Matt – which created a new set of problems, the principal one being that the bonded mates needed to communicate with each other, an essential component of the bonding process. Obviously drastic measures would have to be taken to solve their problem, but would Matt and Pietr survive the cure? They could not live without each other and if anything happened to either one the other would die.
According to the story, initially humans had been excited when they first received messages from space from an alien civilization, but when the Himika arrived on earth the lack of communication between the two races created difficulties and the humans became disappointed and afraid of the aliens’ intentions towards them. The Himika did not speak, at least not verbally, and humans found their silence terrifying. Those who tried to fight the aliens after they were captured were crushed, and the pictures of their defeat were sent around the world, so no one was willing to engage the aliens again. The relationship between the two races was precarious, and since the Himika did not speak this made communicating very difficult if not impossible, but the Himika didn’t seem to care if humans understood why they were on earth and what their agenda was. After Matt was captured by the aliens they found out that his ESP skills were highly developed and he had other skills they wanted to explore.
I thought that the blurb was a bit misleading. I expected something different, a plot that concentrated more on the Himika, their origins, their culture and their purpose on earth, over and above harvesting humans to find out about them. None of this was evident other than the fact that the Himika was a superior race that had evolved beyond where human beings are today. We’re told that they are vulnerable to noise which is why they wore shields to protect their brains from being fried when humans spoke or even thought, but they looked humanoid except for their pointed ears a la´ Spock from Star Trek, they spoke perfect English, they knew about pop culture and even who Ben and Jerry were, all of which I found very strange.
This story is mostly about the bonding between Pietr and Matt, their struggles to overcome the problems of understanding each other and relating on an emotional level, and living in each other’s head, literally. Of course because the protagonists bonded there is the element of insta love/lust and a high degree of angst in the book which, again, I didn’t expect. If you read paranormal books you will probably be aware that the bonding process requires that the mates have sex, lots and lots of it and so Matt and Pietr spent most of their time in bed cuddling and having sex, 🙂 but one endearment that Pietr used frequently to Matt, which got on my last nerve, was “baby;” it just seemed to be so wrong coming from an alien. I also got a bit tired of all the cuddling (both in their minds and physically) between Pietr and Matt, since my experience with the sci fi genre is more action oriented, but I assume that the over-emphasis on cuddling here is part of the Himika bonding process.
I’m not sure this story can be categorised as science fiction since it takes place here on earth, (perhaps an alternate earth) rather than in another dimension, and there wasn’t the kind of world building I normally associate with this genre, so I felt a bit cheated. However there was much to enjoy about Himiko: Bonding especially the characters, although I wanted to learn more about Pietr and the rest of the Himika especially Robbie, the doctor, and Akai, Matt’s trainer and mentor. This book definitely seems unfinished and I’m hoping that the sequel will provide some answers as the Himika appear to be a complex race.
Even though I rated this book 3.75 stars based on my overall enjoyment, I would definitely recommend it to other readers because I thought that the author showed imagination, and the plot was different from a lot that is available today.
Himiko: Warrior, the sequel, should be out much later this year.