Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Sub Zero"

Review - "Sub Zero" by Angel Martinez

Touching story of a second chance

Very Highly Recommended

On the mostly frozen world of Drass, Aren Dalsgaard found his true love among the genetically-altered dangpo population left there during the galactic re-organization. Able to deal with the extreme cold of the planet, and with poisonous spurs on their arms, the dangpo were ignored for years and formed their own peaceful self-govermnent. That changed when Aren and his people came to Drass. He met Akarnyima, his love and became Serpodom, the voice of the dangpo. Then both men died.

But when Aren is re-awakened from his death – science allowed men to be frozen until a cure for the cause of the death discoveres – to investigate a series of murders of human merchants on Drass, he finds himself alone. His love dead decades before and all those he knew long gone.

In the course of his investigation, he finds another young dangbo man, Nyachung, arrested for the crimes. His instincts and knowledge of the dangbo convince him the man is no danger, and he assumes custody of the young man and takes him along as he investigates.

Which is difficult. His memories of his lost love, the familiar yet foreign people and places all combine to haunt him as he navigates the maze of this new, yet not-new, world. Can Aren uncover the cause of these murders? Can he lay down his burden of grief at his and Akarnyima's deaths? And most of all, can he allow himself to live again, and perhaps find a second chance at happiness with Nyachung?

This book was...exquisite. Angel Martinez had me from the first page, grabbing me by the throat and then by the heart - “It would be difficult for anyone, son. That's where he died.” How? Why? I had to know.

Then she took me by the mind and the hand, guiding me through this amazing world populated with rich, textured characters, finely detailed history and intricate politics. The mystery kept me guessing, and the slowly building relationship between Aren and Nyachung – just so very, very right.

Aren, so full of grief and memories, stuck between his old life that left him behind and this new and strange world. His body slowly recovering, he is forced to deal what what was, and lay it to rest, before he can move on with what can be.

And Nyachung, the wonderfully nuanced young man. A tale-singer – bard – he carries the history of his people in his song, and remembers the tragic tale of Aren and his mate. But he also recognizes that this is a new chance for the man, and slowly falls in love with him. So sweetly innocent, yet strong, he forms the true emotional core of the story with his resiliency and hope and power.

I was enthralled with this masterfully told, perfectly executed tale. The romance and mystery are equally important and go hand-in-hand. There is a harmony to this story that drew me in, comforting and challenging me at the same time. I watched the characters unfold, and marveled at the beauty I discovered on this cold, ice world.

Fantastic. A must-read.