Author: E.S. Yu
Publisher: NineStar Press
Length: 305 Pages
At a Glance: Despite the dramatic shift in the focus of the story at about the halfway point, I found myself enthralled by this well written spec fic.
Reviewed By: Lindsey
Blurb: When Cyrex Corp, one of the foremost bioaugmentation companies in the world, sends Vax to assassinate Zai Lumero, Vax thinks it’ll be a simple, straightforward job. Zai is only a journalist, after all, and with his bioaugments, Vax has never botched a job before. But then the hit unexpectedly goes south, and before Vax can correct his mistake and finish Zai off for good, he discovers that Cyrex has turned on him, putting him in their crosshairs as well.
With no one else to turn to, he strikes a grudging partnership with Zai to help him expose Cyrex’s connection to a missing persons case and take the company down. Getting along with a justice crusader who hates Vax’s profession with a burning passion isn’t easy—though Vax finds himself drawn to Zai in a way he never expected.
As they race against time to unearth Cyrex’s secrets, Vax can’t shake the feeling that Zai is hiding something from him. And the closer he gets to uncovering the answers—of how he’s related to Zai’s investigation, and how Zai is connected to a past that Vax can’t remember—the more he suspects that finding out the truth might destroy him.
Review: Eidolon felt more like a Part I and Part II to me, as the tones and pacing of the first half were completely different than the focus and feelings of the second. Part I had more of a sci-fi action/thriller focus, wherein the MCs are uncovering the corruption of Cyrex Corp. while simultaneously discovering Vax’s unremembered past. It was fast paced and there was a threat hanging over their heads. Part II focused on the aftermath, and Eidolon shifts to more of a melancholic tone and feel as Vax and Zai attempt to comes to terms with and work through the revealed truth and repercussions of all they learned.
Through the first half of the book, I was enthralled with the action and mystery aspect of the story. Though the hidden truth of Vax is not necessarily a surprise, the figuring out of the how and why kept me wanting to know more. As they raced the clock as well as assassins to figure out the levels of deceit and corruption within Cyrex, I was glued to every word. The tension between Zai and Vax is palpable—Vax the assassin versus Zai the crusader of truth—their professions keeping them on opposite sides, but the situation forcing them to unite against a common enemy. There initially is little respect, but then, as they spend time together, the coldness thaws and a slow burn begins to simmer.
The second half of the story slowed down, the mystery of Cyrex was uncovered, and Vax is faced with a lot of information hidden from him as well as him finally admitting to the abuse he endured under their employ. No more action, no more mystery, there was just coping with what was left, dealing with everything that was unearthed. It was unexpected and then threw me off. I kept expecting the action to pick back up. I was anxiously awaiting someone or something to surface, bringing the Cyrex drama to the surface, but it didn’t happen. The story stayed at a mellow pace, continuing to explore the mental toll and impact of everything that happened. Told from Vax’s perspective, it delves into a deep and harsh subject matter. There are dark thoughts, depression and PTSD are at the forefront, and Vax finally confronting memories and his truth of being a victim rather than forcing the horrible memories into a box and locking them away. Vax struggles. Zai struggles. They try to find their footing in their new situation and where to go from there, both as individuals and in their forming friendship, which includes romantic feelings.
While there is a developing relationship and romance, there is no sex. One of the characters is Ace, so the relationship is explored through different methods. Since sex mattered next to nil to Zai and Vax, there wasn’t the constant referencing in their mental dialogue about bedroom activities, which I actually appreciated. Sometimes it can get a big daunting when the prose is littered with intimate acts, or the protagonists imagining the physical intimate acts, but there was no doubt there was a romance between them, and I respected the way that the relationship was portrayed. While their chemistry wasn’t physical, the connection was felt mentally and emotionally; it was just as impactful.
My biggest concern is the unexpected shift on the focus. It almost felt as though I was reading two different books, one being sci-fi/suspense while the other is a more of a contemporary romance with a darker edge even though they were both told from Vax’s perspective. I had gone in expecting action and suspense throughout the story, and while it was there, it was wrapped up rather quickly and then moved in a completely different direction—one I wasn’t completely prepared for.
Both parts, told separately, were well written and engaging for different reasons. Together, it didn’t quite flow well. Shoot outs, assassination attempts, running for their lives and going into risky situations all of a sudden came to an abrupt halt and the pace slows immediately, the focus more on mental health and recovery for Vax and Zai. The transition was jarring, and I kept waiting for something more to happen since it felt as though it was wrapped up a little too quickly and cleanly. As the story proceeded and no further action or suspense was revealed, I felt let down.
Despite the dramatic shift in focus at about the halfway point, and the fact I felt a little let down by the lack of action in the last half, I found myself enthralled by this well written spec fic, and I truly appreciated a different type of romance being presented. I look forward to reading more from this author in the future.
You can buy Eidolon here:
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