Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Review of Tsunami Blue

Tsunami Blue is a debut paranormal romance by Gayle Ann Williams. There will be a second book set in the same post-apocalyptic world that takes place six years after the end of this one with a different pair of main characters.

In the year 2023, the world has been completely changed due to tsunamis that have transformed the larger land masses into islands. Kathryn O'Malley, better known as Tsunami Blue for her ability to predict these giant waves, lives alone on one of these islands in the Pacific Northwest with her dog Max. From here, she broadcasts on her radio and warns people about any approaching tsunamis whenever the sea notifies her about them. She is also hiding from the Runners, pirates who would find it very advantageous to possess the woman who knows when the tsunamis are coming.

One night when walking along the shore, Max finds a man's body. At first, Blue believes him to be dead–to her great chagrin, since he is the most beautiful man she's ever seen. Soon she realizes he just appears deceased due to hypothermia so she has her big dog pull him back to her house where she must of course strip off all his clothes and lay naked next to him to warm him (although she does take the precaution of handcuffing him to her stove first). In the morning, Blue finds a knife he has dropped that has the mark of the Runners on it and sees several Runner ships approaching in the distance - and determines to kill the man she just saved.

Instead, she gets back to her home to find he has recovered so well that he was able to lift the cast-iron stove and slip the other end of the handcuff off it so he was no longer restricted. When Blue tells him his friends are coming, he tells her they're leaving and drags her along against her will. They encounter some Runners, who seem to think he has captured Tsunami Blue for someone named Indigo, but he helps Blue fight them off and takes her to his boat. He seems different from the other Runners and Blue is certainly attracted to him - but can she really trust anyone in this lawless world in which survival often depends on looking out for oneself first?

Tsunami Blue is an entertaining, fast-paced book, but in spite of that, I had a few problems with it. One is that it could be quite cheesy and too convenient. When Blue first encounters the man on the shore she initially believes to be dead, she thinks of him as a dark, beautiful angel. Later she discovers his name fits this description perfectly - Gabriel Black. (I do find it a bit amusing that they are Black and Blue, though, when there is so much violence and bruising that goes on when these two are around.) And there are so many excuses for two people who are not actually together to get naked, such as saving someone from hypothermia.

Suspension of disbelief was also necessary. The tsunami premise was a bit difficult to believe. Also, I found it rather incredulous that a man who was unconscious from hypothermia just a few hours before was able to lift a cast-iron stove, drag Blue out of the house to the shore and then fight off a bunch of men. Even Blue made the observation that she wouldn't have expected him to suddenly turn into Hercules after his ordeal, but having the main character barely able to believe what happened only made it more apparent just how preposterous it all was.

Although it was great to see a heroine who was not at all passive and saved the hero at least as often as he saved her, Blue's abrasive personality did get on my nerves repeatedly. It's understandable that she wouldn't be trusting and would be exceptionally argumentative with the rough world she's grown up in and the harsh life she's had - her parents and twin brother were all killed by a tsunami and she was raised by her uncle, a Runner who was not always pleasant to be around and taught her not to be soft. Considering the novel was told from her first person point of view, it did get very annoying as she sniped and made smartass comments, though. Also, she was far too arrogant about how tough she was, particularly with it came to her abilities with a knife:
I twirled the knife into a blur, which was a habit. I realized it probably looked hokey, but what the hell; I didn't get many chances to show off my knife skills, and he was a captive audience. Literally. "Depending on what I hear," I continued, "if I like your answers, I'll decide if you live" -- twirl -- "or die." Twirl. Man, I'd just impressed myself with this knife act, set a new speed record, even. I was such a badass. [pp. 27]

And the old knife-between-my-teeth-trick? A guy named Rambo, who the older Runners idolize, may have been famous for it, but I did it better. [pp. 213]
It was hard to see what Gabriel saw in her, but then, he was too perfect, understanding and thoughtful to be true. He was pretty sympathetic toward her no matter how much she bitched at him.

That's not to say Blue was all bad as she did have motivations for her actions, fondness for children and a desire to save people the best she could. The lengths she took to give up swearing so much in hopes that there were children listening to her on the radio was sweet. Blue was definitely brave, but her courage sometimes seemed like overconfidence and folly even if it was often for a good cause.

The ending was very rushed, and I was rather surprised how much was still left to be wrapped up by the time I was getting close to the end. It was all resolved by the time the last page was turned, but it was all over in very few pages.

Even if I did find the reasons for the changing structure of the world a bit far-fetched, the resulting culture was very interesting to read about. The lack of most of the modern technology we've come to depend on, the chaos and lawlessness and the development of a rather immoral band of pirates did make for some entertaining reading.

Tsunami Blue was somewhat enjoyable even if I did roll my eyes a few times while reading, but I found it less and less diverting as I got closer to the end. After finishing it, it became apparent there were a lot of problems that an intriguing premise and fast pace did not make up for - an irritating heroine, a nearly perfect hero, lots of cheesy parts and dialogue, a hurried conclusion and too many circumstances that were just too difficult to believe in.

My Rating: 3/10

Where I got my reading copy: It was a review copy from the publisher.

Other reviews:


Anastasia said...

That's an oddly harsh rating when it seemed like you actually finished the book and were more or less entertained throughout. I'm guessing that it just compared unfavorably to the usual quality of your readings? Did you rate anything else that low? You keep an index of all your reviews right?

On, I asked people to list their 10 favorite books. Not the "best", but the ones that really spoke to them. And it could include non-SFF and non-fiction. Could you respond please? In fact, I'd love to see everyone answer this question. It should be a blog meme thing.

Also, my laptop has a virus so for the next few weeks I can only use Internet at work, which includes your blog and rafo and work email and excludes personal email. I'll check my email on the weekend, but if you need to reach me, send me a Noteboard and I'll give you my work email.

Kristen said...

Anastasia - It is somewhat rare since I generally try to read books I think I'll enjoy, but I've rated other books that low before (and even lower since the only rating I have never given out is a 1). And if I've reviewed it here, that means I've read the entire book since I do finish the ones I intend to review.

As you suggested, this book did not compare to the usual quality of books I read - there's a difference between entertainment and quality entertainment. Plus, as I pointed out I had a LOT of issues with it and in the end those issues far outweighed any entertainment value for me.

There have been other books that I've had a lot of problems with but rated higher, such as The Charmed Sphere. I ended up giving it a 7 because in spite of any issues I would like to read more in the series, I did care about the characters, it did have some great moments and I would recommend it to at least some people. (I do think this book had bigger problems than The Charmed Sphere, though.)

When I was deciding what to rate this one, I weighed the good against the bad. Then I asked myself if I would read the next one even if it was free, if I cared about any of the characters, if it had any memorable moments or if I could see myself recommending it to anyone. And the answer to all those questions was no. So I decided between the number of things that bothered me and the lack of any real redeeming quality, it was less than 5 (which although it isn't a good rating, it isn't exactly bad either - it's ok) and when I compared to some of the 4-rated books, I thought it came up short in comparison.

So that's probably more than you really wanted to know when you asked why. ;)

Yes, I do keep an index of reviews - it's linked to on the right with the most recent ones.

I did see the question on, although I didn't realize it was you immediately since you changed your screen name. At least not until I looked at the favorite books listed. ;) I've tried to answer it twice now but I've given up in frustration both times. Maybe I'll try again later.

Thanks for the information on how to reach you while your laptop is out of commission!

orannia said...

Thank you for the review, and for clarifying the grade. Perhaps not the book for me - abrasive heroines and I so do not mix :)

TDF Pamela said...

Great review, Kristen. I'm with you; I just didn't care enough about the characters. Blue was irritating (though I found myself wanting to like her for some reason, but she kept bragging about how badass she is, and that kept turning me right back off), and Gabriel was sort of a non-entity. He was too perfect, and I never understood his motivations for doing anything. I wish the book had been better, because it is a really interesting concept, but it just fell flat.

Kristen said...

Orannia - The heroine was much too abrasive for my taste. Honestly, I'm not quite sure how the hero didn't run the other way after spending an hour with her. I mean, I know he was supposed to understand why she acted the way she did but it seems like a guy would only be able to take so much...

The Discriminating Fangirl - Thanks! I think that sums it up pretty well about Gabriel being a non-entity. He was very bland and so perfect that it made him rather dull. His love for Blue didn't make a huge amount of sense to me, either, even aside from the fact that she could be extremely irritating. It seemed like he decided he loved her from what he heard on her broadcasts and being a stalker...

writingbee rewiev said...

Good post! Thanks a lot for it.