Review: Peril by J. E. Lorin01:23
Author: J. E. Lorin
Date of publication: 16 May 2016
Genre: Queer fantasy, Sci Fi
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My rating: 3.5 Stars
Two hundred years after the first spontaneous genetic mutation occurred, the world has accepted the idea of superpowers. Damon Kelly, bright, hard-working, kind-hearted, and yet lacking any mutation, is deeply involved in the powered community, writing his dissertation on superpower genetics. He’s got his work, he’s got his friends, and he’s got a new love interest, the handsome and sexy Eli Emmert. Just when everything seems like it’s falling into place, however, a new supervillain emerges in the city, and Damon finds himself swept into his orbit. Will he figure out how he attracted the villain’s attention before it’s too late, or will he succumb to the peril?
Review by Edwin
I'd been in a bit of a book slump when I came across Peril semi-randomly on a new releases list. The blurb sounded intriguing, the cover art is kind of cool, it was well priced, so I decided to take a chance on it. I'm really glad I did so, because while I had a few reservations about it, I really enjoyed the book.
Starting out with the technical aspects, which really are the reason this is knocked down below 4 stars. Lorin is a new author - this is only her second book - and it does show. The plotting is a little all over the place, most notably in terms of the sheer number of crises suffered by the main character, Damon. He's a scientist, not an action hero, and the fact that he gets into life or death situations no less than four times in the book is a little too damsel in distress, and a little too over the top. Similarly, the pacing is slightly clumsy, with the middle half of the book dragging and the final parts arriving in something of a rush. On the plus side, Lorin's technical command of writing is good. Well put together sentences, free-flowing dialogue, and the occasional nice turn of phrase. Also well proofread for a self-published title. All of these are a pleasant change from some of the poorly written stuff I've read from established names in the m/m field recently, so kudos to Lorin for that.
Turning to the substance of the book, one think that I think is important to highlight is something Lorin states outright in their blog bio: "In the J.E. Lorin universe, there are no “coming out” stories, as homosexuality and bisexuality are not considered unusual. The intent is to create fun, action-filled, dramatic romance stories for those readers who’ve been longing to see such stories with two male leads." Peril delivers on this approach, and it's something I really appreciate. While coming out and dealing with homophobia are obviously (still) major issues in the LGBT community, I feel like they are sometimes focused on as the defining experience of being queer, and they're just not. So much of being queer is just living your life, part of which is having a different orientation or gender identity than the norm. And what we see here is a superhero story and a romance with two male leads. That's it. And it really is quite refreshing.
The basic plot here is quite simple: boy meets boy, boy gets repeatedly attacked by supervillian, boy tries to keep relationship with hot boyfriend going in the midst of all this drama, boy tries to work out who supervillain is and why it keeps attacking him. Around this, though, we have really nicely drawn characters. Damon has a tragic past involving his sister, which has ongoing implications for his relationship with his parents. Eli, the hot boyfriend, has shared caregiving responsibilities for his nieces and nephew (his brother's wife has died). There are a few well drawn friends in there too, who are more than two dimensional support players. They "who's the supervillain" mystery is not a total headscratcher, but neither is it super obvious. As noted above, it's not completely flawless, but it largely does the job in terms of keeping the plot moving. It really is the adorable romance between Damon and Eli, and their interactions with their families, that keep my attention here, though. Without this good characterisation the book would just be a mediocre superhero story. With it, it's a promising early effort from an author whose next book I'll be looking forward to. Recommended for superhero nerds and those into urban fantasy or light SF.
Purchase link: Amazon