Title: The Experiment (Saving Caeorleia #1)
Author: Alicia Nordwell
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: January 27, 2014
Page Count: 270
Reviewed by: Kristin
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3 stars out of 5
In the distant future, humans wage war against the alien planet Caeorleia, with no tactic off-limits if it will help the humans get their hands on Caeorleia’s resources. Ask Ryker. He thought he volunteered for a simple experiment that would help his government in the war. He didn’t realize sadistic doctors would turn him into the experiment—by injecting him with blood from a captured Caeorleian, Seral Iorflas.
Nor did Ryker realize he’d be sent to sabotage a planet full of the very beings his world is battling, beings who kill humans on sight. But then, thanks to the experiment that irrevocably changed him, he isn’t exactly human any longer—and with each passing day, as his blood bond with Seral strengthens, he’s less and less sure as to whose side he’s on.
Premise of the book is Ryker has been physically and emotionally abused as a “volunteer” aboard a scientific ship working toward the destruction of the planet Caeorleia. In a desperate attempt to infiltrate the barbaric planet, he has been genetically modified and fitted with transmitters, then send down to the planet with a captured Caeorliean.
What happens is beyond anyone’s expectations, when Ryker finds himself bonded to Seral and a planet that is beyond belief in terms of scientific advancement and a far cry from the “barbarians” portrayed on media.
I really liked the premise of this book. I thought the planet and the Caeorliean’s were well thought out and well written. There were times situations were reminiscent of Avatar, but the social structure and lack of tails helped dispel further comparisons. The author maintained the difference between human habits and the societal norms of the Caroleian’s all the way through the plot.
What I thought of as notables:
• The Caeorleian’s “hum” to communicate and Ryker was altered to understand their speech. I could get into some technicalities here, but, meh, for the purposes of the plot and world building it worked.
• Caeorleian’s eschew clothes. Ryker insisted on wearing something despite societal norms. Those weren’t his norms and he stuck to them. Nicely done.
• Caeorleian’s don’t laugh per se. Laughing tickles their extra ear bones. But they like the sound to laughing. Again, nicely done.
• The trauma and abuse followed by the lack of trust. I appreciated that being added in – Ryker didn’t immediately warm up to everyone around him, which added a nice layer to his personality.
And, because this is a review, a few things didn’t quite work for me:
• Ryker being referred to as a “little male”. Little to me denotes something child sized, and Ryker was no child. I found this borderline demeaning, even when I tried to put it in the context of an ‘alien’ race.
• After Ryker and Seral bonded, Seral constantly pulling Ryker into his lap. On occasion I could see, but All. The. Time? Ah, no. Adults pull children into their laps, not other adults. One, it’s super awkward and two, it puts legs to sleep and squishes things best not squished.
• This is totally my quirk – constantly picking someone up and carrying them around. Children are carried around, adults, no. Yes, I get that Caeorlians are stronger, but even bonded, do they carry their partners around all the time? I suspect not. That would get tiresome.
• A few to many heart to hearts between Ryker and Seral which got a bit like eating a tub of frosting – too sweet and not in a good way.
Ultimately, a solid start to a new series that holds potential for character and world building.