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Review: Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey

>>Monday, July 11, 2011

Title: Santa Olivia
Author: Jacqueline Carey
Series: Santa Olivia #1
Format: Paperback
Pages: 341
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: May 29th, 2009
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Rating: C

Summary: Lushly written with rich and vivid characters, Santa Olivia is Jacqueline Carey's take on comic book superheroes and the classic werewolf myth. Loup Garron was born and raised in Santa Olivia, an isolated, disenfranchised town next to a US military base inside a DMZ buffer zone between Texas and Mexico. A fugitive "Wolf-Man" who had a love affair with a local woman, Loup's father was one of a group of men genetically-manipulated and used by the US government as a weapon. The "Wolf-Men" were engineered to have superhuman strength, speed, sensory capability, stamina, and a total lack of fear, and Loup, named for and sharing her father's wolf-like qualities, is marked as an outsider. After her mother dies, Loup goes to live among the misfit orphans at the parish church, where they seethe from the injustices visited upon the locals by the soldiers. Eventually, the orphans find an outlet for their frustrations.They form a vigilante group to support Loup Garron who, costumed as their patron saint, Santa Olivia, uses her special abilities to avenge the town. Aware that she could lose her freedom, and possibly her life, Loup is determined to fight to redress the wrongs her community has suffered. And like the reincarnation of their patron saint, she will bring hope to all of Santa Olivia.

My Review

Why did I read this book? This book is Calico Reaction's selection for July's Dare.

What I liked: I have mixed feelings about this one. I've read Carey's Kushiel's Dart a long time ago and I had mixed feelings about that one, as well, but for different reasons. I really enjoyed Kushiel's Dart for the worldbuilding and plot, but had issue with the characters. In Santa Olivia I had issue with the worldbuilding and plot (and I suppose some characters). What I liked about it was the originality in setting (an Outpost where residents cannot go in or out due to the threat of war) between Mexico and the USA. I also liked the mythology used about the figure of Santa Olivia and how this played into the lives of the townspeople. My favorite part has to be the beginning where Loup's mother meets and falls in love with two men and has two children (not at the same time). I thought her struggles with life and romance was sympathetic and I admired her for the decisions she had to make.

What I didn't like: Where the book changed for me was when the focus changed to Loup. It became, not about a superhero (which I thought) but more of children orchestrating events to do good to some people or to send messages.Then, to me it seemed like it suddenly became a book about boxing. A good chunk of the novel focused on boxing and I definitely have no interest in that. I wasn't connected to Loup enough to care about her goal or her problems in her romance with Pilar. I would have rather seen more about the engineered men and the world outside Outpost, because in Outpost, there wasn't much going on at all (except boxing).

Thoughts on the cover: I like it for the way it evokes the image of a superhero.

Overall Thoughts
I finished the book, which may be a surprised since I had a lot of negative things to say. It was interesting but I felt what I was interested in was always happening elsewhere or outside the view of the main characters. I liked the world that is hinted at but I needed more. If this is a series, I'd definitely be interested in continuing because I think the next books can only reveal more of the world. If someone is interested in a book with a strong female protagonist or a different take on werewolves and don't mind a lot of boxing, you will probably like this.

2 comments:

  1. Aw, it's too bad you didn't enjoy this more. I absolutely fell in love with this one, but I see where you're coming from with your criticisms as well.

    This is a series though! The second book is coming out in November of this year (in paperback too! woo!). :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. @MichieBee: Thanks for the heads up! I'd be interested in reading the next one in the series!

    ReplyDelete

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