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The Initiation of PB 500 Paperback – September 1, 2001
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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The basic premise: an exceptionally attractive, blond, physically perfect young man is captured by a troop of semi-barbarous aliens and subsequently enslaved by them. Once he has recovered from his injuries, he is promptly sold to the local military leader, whom he quickly comes to worship. He then has to choose between happiness in slavery or loyalty to his own civilization----which do you think he chooses?
A few things that set this novel apart:
The conflict is fully developed: the main character (Chento) seems deeply torn between his sense of dignity and his desire to be submissive. Expertly woven into the subtext is his conflict between loyalty to his past life (and love) and his new one.
The S&M depicted does not seem artificial or contrived, as it does so often in such fiction; it's not a group of characters 'playing' at cruelty: the cruelty is an ingrained part of the alien society---this gave PB500's enslavement a very real quality that I found enthralling.
The alien culture is well developed and logical in the context of the story; it's not merely window-dressing. Unfortuantely, this comes at the expense of Chento's own background, which is given short-shift.
Overall, if you like reading about horny, masculine guys controlling each other, this is an excellent bit of erotic escapism, written intelligently. As another reviewer noted, it could easily have been expanded into a full-length novel without losing it's magic.
- Really well-formed sci-fi setting. The world of the story is rounded and complete; very little of it feels familiar or Earth-like at all.
- Good examination of the psychological transformation a sexual submissive goes through when discovering his/her natural tendencies.
- Interesting method of communication. The main character, Micah-slash-Chento, doesn't speak the language of his Master's race, so he communicates with the Kudites through a series of gestures that seem similar to sign language and/or the act of drawing symbols on someone else's skin.
- A number of scenes that I found horrifying, terrible, gruesome, awful. Etcetera. (I could go on, but you probably get the point.) I lost count of the number of times the principle character gets raped--and most of those instances are gang rape. In fact, I perceived the majority of the sex in this book to be rape. I don't find that hot AT ALL.
- I found the Kudites' tactics for "breaking" Micah and turning him into the ideal sex slave for their leader to be barbaric. Attlad, Micah's Master, calls Micah his "love slave" at least a couple of times, but the story was way too severe for me to believe for one minute that it was about "love." Micah cherishes his submissive role, sure, and his Master as an extension of that, but I can't make myself think of their connection as love, as I can when I think of the relationship depicted in the Deviations series, for example.
Overall comments: This is BDSM at its most brutal: the slave has almost no freedom and is punished for things that aren't his fault and/or he has no way of knowing are wrong. I understand that it's a seminal work of erotic fiction, but the feeling I have upon finishing this is similar to that I had when I finished the first volume of Anne Rice's Sleeping Beauty series: it's a sexy book in that it has a lot of sex in it, but I didn't find it at all romantic...or enjoyable. I certainly believe that the book has merit, but if this had been the first m/m book I ever read, I doubt that I would ever have read another. At the very least, I think many non-practitioners of BDSM and/or beginners to the genre are likely to find this volume too severe to start with.