Twist
by Colby Hodge, futuristic (2008)
Shomi, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-505-52748-6


Twist combines time travel, a different take on vampires, and futuristic action into one interesting tale, but I have to say, the main characters drive me crazy at times with their antics.

Abbey Shore takes martial arts classes when she's not buying and fixing up houses to sell them for a tidy profit. One day, while trying to tear down a wall of her latest project (a house that is allegedly haunted), she discovers without realizing it at that time a time portal used by a race of aliens called the Chronolotians to move back and forth through time. She injures her arm in the process but meets a cute doctor, Shane Maddox, whom she agrees to go on a date. She never shows up for that date because she pretty much stumbles into that time portal soon after she gets home to find herself a hundred years or so into the future.

Surprise, Shane Maddox is still alive a hundred years later. You see, while waiting for Abbey to show up for their date, he ends up getting attacked by the Chronolotian named Lucinda that Abbey has encountered earlier, and as a result is turned into one of those creatures himself. The Chronolotians in the meantime have taken over Earth and allow ragtag colonies of humans around only to serve as food, just like how we keep chickens around so that Kentucky Fried Chicken stays in business. Shane is one of "them", but he is on the humans' side, playing their resident doctor as they organize attacks on the "ticks", as these humans call the aliens.

The story is quite slow and hard to get into but it finds its stride and goes full speed ahead once Abbey is sent into the post-apocalyptic future. The ticks are interesting variants of the vampire - instead of using fangs and being obsessed about sex, they instead are really mean and nasty and they feed on blood using a bony appendage that protrudes from their palms, which they use to shove into their victim's chest right into the heart. Abbey with her katana-wielding ability is soon fighting beside her friends, but she has to wonder whether she can trust Shane. In a nice and realistic turn of events that I can appreciate, Abbey actually mistrusts Shane at first since he is, after all, one of the ticks. Is he a wolf in the sheep pen or is he really the good guy? Given that she doesn't know him well at all before they meet each other in the future, I find Abbey's initial mistrust most understandable and a far cry from other dim-witted heroines who immediately trust the hero because they can somehow just "feel" that the hero is a good guy.

The story is also a most interesting one, moving along at a brisk pace and bringing on the action. The villain Lucinda is too much of a cardboard bad guy for my liking - she makes Diana the Visitor Queen from the 1980s miniseries V three-dimensional in comparison - but the way the author sets up the story and puts everything together is nicely done. Twist would have made a most enjoyable story if I like the main characters better.

Despite occasionally pointing out to each other that the world doesn't revolve around them, Abbey and Shane can be so maddeningly self-absorbed that they can drive me crazy. Shane blows Abbey hot and cold here that I snort in disbelief when he finally says that he is attracted to her. If he does, he has a funny way of showing it. Since this story is told in first person from Abbey's point of view, I have a hard time figuring out Shayne since his behavior is all over the place. Abbey on the other hand has constantly switched-on sarcastic personality that gets tedious after the first few dozen pages. She's like a robot programmed to speak and think like a fifteen-year old Livejournal blogger who tries very hard to imitate Perez Hilton. A little more genuine emotion from her would have helped made her a more well-rounded character, I feel.

Twist is an interesting story. At the very least, it's something with enough differences to make it a nice change from the usual glut of urban fantasy stories featuring Anita Blake types agonizing over whether to pick the vampire boyfriend or the werewolf boyfriend while pretending to be a kick-ass heroine. I just wish the main characters hadn't annoyed me as much as they did.

Rating: 79


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