Thursday, January 28, 2010

Santa Olivia

Title: Santa Olivia
Author: Carey, Jacqueline
Review Date: January 28, 2010
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 352
Price (Trade Paperback): $13.99
Publication Date: 5/29/2009 0:00:00
ISBN: 978-0446198172
Category: Fiction

Jacqueline Carey’s departure from her usual elegant world-building and florid prose is surprisingly successful in her first foray into urban fantasy.

Loup Garron is not your average girl, especially in this army-occupied town that lies in the buffer military zone between US and Mexico. Her father escaped a genetic lab that had successfully crossbred humans and wolves - producing human weapons with incredible strength, dexterity, senses, and most importantly, a complete lack of fear. Loup’s ancestry is a closely kept secret, as her inheritance of these abilities makes her a resource the occupying army would love to exploit in its war against the unseen enemy, El Segundo. When their mother dies, Loup’s brother is unable to care for her on his own so she is placed in the church orphanage with the rest of the town’s unwanted children. Quickly deciding she needs an ally to warn her when she should be cautious, Loup decides to trust the other kids with her secret, and when one of the group is brutally attacked they realize they have their own secret weapon. Faced with continual injustice, bound by ever-increasing rules and regulations, not knowing whether there really is an enemy the army is there to fight, they decide to bring to life the myth of Santa Olivia. However, possessing superhero qualities is not enough to save her when the town faces the ultimate betrayal of their only hope, and Loup has to make a decision that will decide the course of her life and the fate of her people.

Carey's new prose style may be quick and dirty, but somehow that does not make it less sensuous - and sensuous prose combined with a breakneck pace makes for a thrilling read. Though the main character is not as well-fleshed out as she could be, the secondary characters make up for it by being complex and unique. Loup’s lack of fear makes for interesting and unintended consequences, especially in her relationships. The erasure of human rights throughout the novel in the name of national security draws easy parallels with current events. Santa Olivia may not be what fans are used to from Carey, but it will leave them wanting more.

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