by Gayle Ann Williams, futuristic (2010)
LoveSpell, $6.99, ISBN 978-0-505-52821-6
I always have a soft spot for stories that dare to be different from the usual, so, despite the fact that Gayle Ann Williams's Tsunami Blues have some major problems in the plot department, I can't bring myself to pan it completely. Do keep that in mind when you continue reading the rest of this review.
By 2023, the world has been hit by some major tsunamis, so much so that the landscape of the world has been changed forever. USA is now reduced to a series of islands. The much reduced human population is now reenacting scenarios from postapocalyptic movies like Mad Max, but even the most lawless son of a dog knows that another tsunami can strike anytime soon.
Kathryn O'Malley, our heroine, is gifted with an ability to correctly predict the arrival of monster tsunamis. Currently living as a voluntary hermit with only her dog for company, she runs a radio public service announcement as Tsunami Blue, your friendly weather girl whom you better listen to and run when she tells you to. One fine day, she and her dog Max discover an unconscious man drifted upon her island sanctuary. When this man, Gabriel, comes to, she realizes that he may be one of the Runners, ruthless pirates who have been after her for her talents for as long as she can remember. When the Runners finally attack, Gabriel drags her out of her island... into an adventure that will change her irrevocably.
The biggest problem in this story is Gabriel. Seriously, when he finally tells her who he is and why he needs her, at very close to the last page, I feel like screaming because if he has told her all this earlier, she would have not spent the bulk of this story correctly mistrusting him. There is absolutely no reason for him to behave like a leering jackass in the beginning of the story. In addition, because Gabriel stupidly lets Tsunami Blue think the worst of him, and this story is told entirely through the heroine's point of view, for a long time Gabriel comes off like a contradictory character who is one moment a villain and a bewildering hero the next. I am so confused by him and am equally perplexed by why Tsunami Blue can fall in love with such a fellow. Imagine my reaction when I realize that all this confusion is unnecessary because that stupid man could have cleared everything up with a short and simple discussion with Tsunami Blue the moment he woke up after she saved him! Ugh, I feel like breaking something from just remembering that.
Therefore, there is a very strong element of contrivance in this story. Because Gabriel stupidly keeps all the important information to himself, Tsunami Blue tries to escape from him time and time again. Here is where the author makes the story even more contrived: every time the heroine successfully escapes, something will conveniently crop up to ensure that she can never truly walk away. This "something" could range from the sudden popping up from nowhere of children in distress to even an incoming monster tsunami. Whatever it is, it is clearly pulled out of the author's rear end and smacked indelicately into the middle of the story.
Let's talk about Tsunami Blue. I personally have no problems with her nickname, but I can see some people cringing at it, heh. The author makes the same mistake as many authors in her subgenre: Ms Williams builds Tsunami Blue up to be the biggest badass of them all, only to have the heroine choke at the first opportunity for her to show her strut. Realistically, a reclusive hermit like Tsunami Blue can't be expected to behave like Red Sonja on steroids, and I don't expect her to. But because Ms Williams has Tsunami Blue claiming that she has killed an attempted rapist when she was thirteen and she has since become so badass as a result, I can only roll up my eyes every time Tsunami Blue faints in this story. I don't get this fad of having heroines faint at dramatic moments, I tell you.
On the bright side, I can't help liking the heroine despite her tendency to faint or choke when it comes to dealing with the hero (see the above point about contrivance), because under other circumstances and scenarios, our heroine can actually hold her own very well. She can be abrasive and even stab-friendly with her knife, but it's a lawless world that she lives in, and she will be very foolish if she behaves instead like a selfless and trusting twit. In some ways, Tsunami Blue is exactly the kind of realistically capable heroine that I like.
I also have a good time with the setting. I feel that the author has done a pretty good job drawing me into her world and providing me with a fun vicarious trip through the whole thing. Despite my annoyance with how contrived the whole story can be, I actually have a pretty good time reading Tsunami Blue's adventures when she's away from that annoying fool Gabriel and therefore isn't crippled by standard romance heroine weaknesses. And, of course, the fact that this story is different and therefore stands out as a refreshing change from the glut of vampire and werewolf stories out there also helps in getting me to feel a degree of fondness for this book despite my many reservations about it.
So, there you have it. I personally feel that Tsunami Blue is pretty interesting despite its many flaws and I'd be interested to see what the author has to offer next. If you think you are fine with my issues with this book, perhaps you may like to give this one a try too if you are in the mood for a paranormal romance that is a little different from the rest.
This book at Amazon.com
This book at Amazon UK
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