Saturday, January 4, 2014

The Last Hour of Gann by R. Lee Smith #Review


Genre: Adult, sci-fi, horror, erotic romance
Where to Purchase: Amazon || B & N
Reviewed by: Aimee
Source: Amazon Kindle Purchase
Rating: 5 out of 5 (♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥)

He looked briefly heavenward and then rubbed at the bony ridges over his eyes. He muttered something about his God sending him to them.

"Yeah, and I can see you're thrilled to be a part of that--"

He snorted

"--but I'm glad you're here, because we're all going to die without you." That sounded a lot more true than she liked. She tried to hide it with a smile, but it wouldn't stick. "Everything is so hard. I'm tired. I can't...do this forever."

He stood up, saying something she mostly understood without guessing: "Things will get easier when we can speak more freely."

"Easier is a relative term, lizardman."

"Truth," he agreed in lizardish. "But then, life is in the journey. If you cannot have an easy journey, have an interesting story."

"That needs to be a fortune cookie," said Amber. "I don't know how my story can possibly be more interesting than it already is without...well, I was going to say alien invasion or a giant lizard, but we appear to have those bases covered."
I just finished this book (over 1500 pages) and… wow… It's going to take me several days to process and I'm already suffering withdrawal. I don't even know where to begin.

This book is about a man and a woman that fall in love. Only the man, Meoraq, is a religious zealot, a violent, aggressive warrior who appears to resent women and... a lizard man. His planet is in a post-apocalyptic state with a primitive and violent culture. It's a highly oppressive caste system based on religion that expects women to be veiled and obedient. Meoraq belongs to the the warrior caste born under the blade. They are sheulek or Swords of God (judge, jury and executioner) and are afforded every right under Sheul and denied no request. They are basically above the law in anything they do.

The woman, Amber, is the daughter of a prostitute and one of 48 human survivors, including her younger sister Nicci, that crashed on his planet. She comes from earth, many years in the future where technology is advanced, reproduction has been outlawed, and people travel through space to colonize distant planets. She's overweight, foul-mouthed, and sarcastic. Amber is a strong and domineering character to the annoyance of her fellow survivors. What she sees as just trying to take action for everyones benefit, they view as bossy and controlling. She's also an atheist, which leads to all kinds of interesting dialogue between her and Meoraq.

The world building in this book is phenomenal. Not right away. The first part of the novel (Amber's chapters) is a bit disjointed and difficult to get through (for me at least, might not be the case for everyone else). In fact, I was getting a little worried until I reached Meoraq's portion a few chapters later. This is where the writing starts to takes off and draw you in.

This book reminded me of sooo many things. But I have to agree with Patti's review at Parajunkee.com when she compared it to books like William Golding's Lord of the Flies, Steven King's Dark Tower series, and Diana Galbadon's Outlander series. For me, though, the slow development of Amber and Meoraq's relationship reminds me, in many ways, of the 1985 movie Enemy Mine, with louis Gossett Jr. and Dennis Quaid, minus the asexual reproduction thingy with the lizard man. Obviously Amber would be Quad… and also a woman instead of a man. A friendship builds between these two in much the same way. They overcome many of the same conflicts including language barriers and differences in cultures and beliefs. They save each other's lives many times and the lessons they learn from one another are significant and invaluable.

Now for the bad stuff, I'm not gonna lie, this book is chock full of "UGLY," so let's list all the things that are bound to make people angry and conflicted.

discrimination
prejudice
misogyny
Chauvinism
bigotry
racism
sexism
social control
injustice
violence
death
perversion
rape

Did I miss anything? Let me round it out some more. There are more bad guys than good guys for a greater portion of this story. There is slave trade/trafficking by really depraved and violent lizard men (the raiders); our modern day equivalent of mafias, cartels, or the like. Sadly, it seems the surviving humans are not really much better. So many despicable people and lots of "Ugly" to overcome.

After all that negative you might be wondering why on earth you should even read the book!? I can't say I blame you… I wondered the very same thing myself. I read a few DNF reviews that stated they wouldn't continue because of the derisive comments of the characters weight or the treatment of the women (human and alien) or the rape, abuse and torture of many victims (humans and aliens). So, prepare yourself… this book is going to offend you and I'm not going to sugar coat it… it happens. BAD things happen. Bad things are done by the hero, bad things are done by the bad guys and the humans. Bad choices are made by nearly everyone. But not once is ANY of it glorified. You are meant to feel bad right along with the characters; angry for Amber, disgusted by the abuse; disturbed by the beliefs of the primitive culture on Meoraq's planet; shocked by the violence. If you don't feel any these things, then you're most likely a psychopath.

I strongly believe it was the author's intent as part of the journey to to shock you, hurt you, disgust you, make you spitting mad. Maybe even enough to throw the book across the room… many times. You'll want vengeance to a disturbing degree and It's going to embarrass you in a few places with it's sexual content. But at no point should you put it down and walk away. You have to experience the book as a whole; a journey from beginning to end. If you don't, you will NEVER understand the deeper message. You will walk away thinking things about the book that are distorted and false. You will never see how the two main characters, grow and evolve for the better, and you will miss out on a truly glorious and inspiring love story. Through all the doom and gloom there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, but you have to journey through the darkness to reach it. The story, itself, is a kind of pilgrimage for the audience. And I promise you… there is so much more to The Last Hour of Gann than all the "Ugly."

That being said…. with the bad, comes the good, and a promise. You will laugh. A lot. The dialogue is just… for lack of a better word, awesome. You will cry because you are sad and because you are happy and sometimes for no reason you can comprehend. The emotional highs and lows are a roller coaster in the last 70% of the book. And for those of you that need that hope, fear not, there is a HEA. It's not a fairy tale ending where everyone gets what they want in a perfect world with perfect outcomes; but it's believable, hopeful, simplistic and above all REAL.

There is a truly beautiful love story that develops very slowly throughout. Not a romance, but a real and genuine LOVE story. It's amazing. It's what a love story should be. Not based on sex, or looks or all the shallow things most romances spit out these days. And despite all your misgivings about inter-species relationships… I guarantee you will be IN LOVE with a lizard man by the end of the story. If you aren't, then I will gladly recant my words. If you're a guy, then you'll be in love with Amber. And having said that… if you ARE a guy… don't be frightened by this book. It was meant for you and is in no way, shape, or form… girly. If I had to categorize this book, I'd call it a sci-fi, horror, "gromance" (guys romance) -- (this actually sounded a lot more clever in my head than it looks written out).

The cons? There aren't many, but the story is not without it's flaws. It's super long and it does need some polishing in areas. I also had to roll my eyes a few times because there are several places where things are a bit over the top. But I kept going. Also, for reasons I'm still unable to comprehend, none of "our" species, save one, seems to have any redeemable qualities to them at all. From a ship that carried thousands, we are left with only 48 human survivors. Survivors that are apparently the most embarrassing wastes of space that shouldn't be allowed to repopulate or represent the human species ANYWHERE, for any reason whatsoever. I have a hard time seeing that as a likely probability. I guess all the really redeemable humans went down with the ship.

Regardless, the story is still kick-ass and in case you hadn't already noticed, I LOVED this book… and I hated it a little too. But I'm grateful that I didn't shy away from it or leave it unfinished. Now I want to gobble up everything else this author has ever written. And with that, I say, if you can handle watching TV shows full of gratuitous bloody violence and shock value like Breaking Bad, Sopranos, Dexter, Game of Thrones, Vikings, or Spartacus, then there's absolutely no reason you shouldn't be reading this book.

Here are some other good reviews if you're still on the fence:
Author Jill Myles
Red Hot Books
Heroes and Heartbreakers
Parajunkee
Fiction Vixen
Dear Author

Amazon || B & N

ratingFiction Fool

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