Author: Kevin Caucher
Publisher: Wayward Ink Publishing
Cover Artist: Adrian Rafail
Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 04/29/2016
Length: Novella (~ 15K-50K)
Genre: Apocalyptic/dystopian, Fiction, Gay, Gay Fiction, New Adult, Paranormal
The post-apocalyptic world has changed. Colors have changed.
The skies are now red, and the seas fandango pink.
There are those who’ve acquired skills as “squinters”. By narrowing their eyes, they can see people in different colors—colors by which they can define their mood.
Senlin was born a squinter. A child of the foster system, the lack of love has left him with casual views on sex.
When Sicong recruits him into SQX, a squinter organization, Senlin wants nothing more than to jump his bones, but Sicong’s detachment makes Senlin believe his feelings aren’t reciprocated.
Senlin and Sicong’s relationship begins to grow as they undertake missions together.
That is, until an enemy of SQX turns his attention upon them.
The concepts for this new “power” some people have is interesting, and it fosters a number of questions. I’m guessing the whole “squinting” aspect is meant to be a combination of taking back control of a stereotype, sticking the proverbial finger in the eye of that stereotype and turning the whole thing on its head, reclaiming the power of the perception of those who squint. This is my interpretation of the physical representation of this power to read and influence the emotional states and actions of others.
The writing at times feels odd, with awkwardly phrased sentences. The word order and words in particular chosen to express an idea or emotion reflect the possibility that English might not be the first language for this author. If my guess is correct, they’ve done a pretty darn good job in communicating this story that is filled with very specific rules for this world they’ve created. The further along I got, the more I settled into their style, taking it as a part of the story as a whole.
The biggest reason I was able to do this? The emotions and intentions of these characters are ripe for the picking. I identified with each of them and they all made me smile, kept me engaged, made me want to learn more about them, and did their parts in building the intensity of the story.
I have to say, the world’s supply of commas might have been put in grave danger in this story. Half of them could have been culled and the flow would have improved.
As I said, this story and these characters made me smile. Our man Sen is right up front about what he’s feeling, what he wants and, when he isn’t sure what the heck is going on, he’s not afraid to ask. So refreshing! There’s no pussyfootin’ around with him. Being our narrator, this worked for me.
I kept picturing college-aged guys reading this story and pumping their fists – and other things – and digging this light foray into paranormal and semi-post-apocalyptic storytelling. It has their names written all over it.
Beefing up of the backstory to the evolution of the “squinting” would have benefitted the story, as would a bit more history of these characters. The exception is Sic, one of the leaders of the organization that recruits Sen to teach him more about his abilities and how to use them for good, which is their main purpose.
It was cool learning about how the squinting worked, the way the abilities could be manipulated, and their real world applications. This adaptation is one of those things that, if those with less than honorable intentions figured out a way to control it and the people who have it, could lead to some pretty nasty results.
I ended up really liking these characters and the potential for more that they all hold. They might have been surrounded by occasionally contradictory story points and odd phrasing, but they made their intentions clear and I enjoyed my time spent with them.
This is the kind of story that pokes at my curiosity about what else this author might and will do. Their blog post here on PBA did that very thing and caused me to buy this book to begin with. I’m interested to see what they’ll do next. They have much potential and I’d love to see them continue to write and grow their talent.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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