Plagued by overpopulation, disease, and starvation, humanity was headed for extinction - until an alien race called the haan arrived. And then the real trouble began.
It's been a rough day for Sam Shao. As part of a program that requires humans to act as surrogates to haan infants, Sam has been genetically enhanced to bond with them. So when three soldiers invade her apartment and arrest her guardian for smuggling a dangerous weapon into the country, Sam can sense that something isn't right. One of his abductors is a haan masquerading as a human, and the supposedly fragile haan seems to be anything but. Racing through the city slums, trying to stay one step ahead of the mysterious haan soldier, Sam tries to find the man who, in her 20 years, has been the only father she's ever known.
Could he truly have done what he is accused of? Or did he witness something both human and haan would kill to keep hidden? The only thing certain is that the weapon is real - and lost now somewhere in a city of millions. Fighting the clock, Sam finds an ally in Nix, a haan envoy devoted to coexisting with humans, or so it seems. But what she really needs are answers. Fast. Or else everything she knows - and everyone she loves - will burn.
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"None of us are ever lost."
This book has it all - good writing, vivid images of strange settings, action aplenty which speeds up as the book progresses, well constructed 3-dimensional characters to care about, all told by an excellent narrator.
Some 50 years ago the Haan arrived. An alien race stranded here on a world of fifteen billion people: there is poverty, sickness, and - always - hunger. Plus the constant threat of terrorists and war.The Haan promised to help and they did but still it was a struggle to survive. To earn extra credits (and food), 20 years old Sam works as a surrogate mother to Haan babies, fragile, glass-like children who need constant care. She loves these tiny babies. But when her father is viciously arrested, she is forced to return her latest charge to try to find him and try to get him back. Together with two friends, she finds herself caught up in a nightmare of adventures in which a lot of violence ensues.
The story is told from Sam's perspective throughout, with all of her fears and the sights she sees vividly portrayed. Sam is no goody goody heroine. She smokes, drinks excessively and takes drugs. But she cares ... Jeannie Lin is the voice of Sam, conveying her emotions naturally with a pleasant cadence and perfect timing (even the gap between chapters is just right). Female narrators often have difficulty giving convincing renderings of male protagonists in conversation, but not Ms.Lin. Her renderings convey the male voices lightly but convincingly throughout and all of the different characters are easily distinguishable. Her portrayal adds the extra dimension of reality to an already thrilling story where tension increases with every passing hour.
The combination of book and narrator makes this a must read audio book for anyone who enjoys both action thrillers, mysteries and science fiction and isn't adversely affected by the spilling of (on page) blood. My deepest thanks to the rights holder of The Burn Zone for the complementary review copy i received, via Audiobook Boom. I will certainly be looking out for more works by the author, James K. Dekker, and his narrator, Jeannie Lin.
- Norma Miles