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  • Writer's pictureTina S Beier

Refraction (Book Review)

Christopher Hinz

Action Thriller Sci-Fi

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for a fair review.

A rather generic thriller with a sci-fi twist, Refraction is a quick-paced story about a man attempting to uncover his history.

The novel deals with a man named Aiden who discovers that he was adopted after being a subject of a government study as a baby. This leads him down a path he never expected, all because of an alien rock called a “quiver”.

This is one of those books that would be better as a movie. I could easily understand and picture what was going on, but it has the potential to be more interesting on screen than on the page.

I’ll say what I enjoyed. As I mentioned, it was easy to read. It requires almost no concentration to follow the story, the plot points tie up nicely, and there is good continuity (for example, Aiden is hurt and he continues to suffer pain from the wounds throughout. Oftentimes people recover instantly). I was intrigued by the mystery.

Honestly, though, there wasn’t a lot else that I enjoyed. The pace reminded me of a teenager learning to drive stick - it jolts forward, then stops, then jolts, then stops. While I enjoyed learning all the quiver kids’ powers as the story went along, the “big reveal” at the end was rather lackluster. I did like how it wasn’t a “gather the team” story, like in a superhero movie.

Unfortunately, the main character was very boring and I didn’t care about him at all. In fact, everyone was very boring, mainly because the dialogue was either stilted or used to provide exposition. Most of the talking in this novel was explanation; there’s not a lot of humor and even threats fell rather flat.

The only character with any real personality was Michael, and that’s because he’s over-the-top despicable. He was so gross. Did he have to talk about rape all the time? It was too much. There was no attempt to humanize him. He’s a villain through-and-through (which isn’t very interesting). His motives were extremely flat.

Of course, I’m going to mention Jessie, the main female character. Is she a smoke show? Of course, she is. Can’t have any normal-looking women walking around. I did like her attitude, sexual agency, and refusal to be victimized. Unfortunately, she read to me like a fantasy of a badass woman and not a real person. Likewise, her sexual agency comes off as aggression, which, while I’m sure it wasn’t the intention, made it seem like female sexuality is some sort of threat. Also, no woman would ever get naked to distract men. Even bra and underwear would be ridiculous, but full-on naked? Give me a break. Her power was projectile-based. She didn’t even need to distract anyone. This scene was ridiculous.

There was no real attempt to be diverse. Everyone in the book, except for a nurse, was white. Oh, right, there was “Chef”, a Native man who falls under the “mystical Native” trope quite hard. It’s 2020, guys. Come on.

Oh, and as a side note, I’m five years older than Aiden and Jessie and I have never seen Basic Instinct or Fatal Attraction. Jessie would more likely use references like “Black Widow” and “Scarlet Witch”.

Overall, I’m giving it a 3 because it kept me entertained, I liked the mystery aspect of it, and for the word Chunkies.

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