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Santa Olivia Paperback – May 29, 2009

4.2 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Santa Olivia Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Departing from epic fantasy (Kushiel's Dart, etc.), Carey sets this powerful near-future tale in Outpost 12, a small town trapped in a œbuffer zone shielding Texas from pandemic-stricken Mexico. Two half-siblings chafing under General Argyle's military rule make very different plans to beat the status quo. Tom, the son of a soldier, lives at the gym, where he trains in boxing and hopes to win his freedom from the town by defeating the general's boxing champion. Loup, who has inherited her escaped father's oddly engineered genes, joins a group of church wards called the Santitos, a tight gang of vigilantes who masquerade as the local saint, Santa Olivia. Carey's fans will enjoy meeting another strong, fearless heroine with special powers, while new readers will appreciate the tight focus that intensifies the depth of character and emotion. (June)
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Review

Jacqueline Carey has created a postmodern fable of enormous scope and force. Santa Olivia is a cautionary tale of people caught in a web of lies and creeping terror and a love song to the beauty and power of being different. At the novel's heart the the kind of grace Carey is known for: an illumination of the strength that lies hidden inside all of us - Eric Van Lustbader 'Santa Olivia is a terrific book that is both a romantic romp - and a deep piece of literature that left me breathless and cheering'
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 341 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (May 29, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 044619817X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446198172
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #396,942 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on May 21, 2009
Format: Paperback
_Santa Olivia_ is a coming-of-age story; it's a story about being a misfit; it's a story about an underdog up against towering odds; it's a love story; and it's a hero(ine)'s journey story.

_Santa Olivia_ is set in southern Texas in a bleak, plague-ravaged near future. The military has taken over the area, supposedly to protect the citizens from a shadowy external threat. Poverty and crime are rampant. Into this setting comes Loup, who rises from humble beginnings to become a symbol of hope and freedom for the downtrodden people of the town of Santa Olivia. Caution: you may find yourself cheering aloud! Despite the very different settings, I was sometimes reminded of Donna Gillespie's The Light Bearer as I read Santa Olivia; the two books brought out the same pumping-my-fist-in-the-air impulse in me.

Fans of Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel novels will not be surprised that the love story in Santa Olivia is sensual, touching, and bittersweet. Loup and her lover are painfully "real" to me in their trials and tribulations. Both characters have made very specific plans for the future, and both find that their relationship complicates those plans more than they ever imagined.

I should also mention that Carey sets herself a hard task and does it well. One of Loup's special qualities is that she does not feel fear. It can't have been easy to write almost all of the novel from the perspective of someone who simply isn't ever afraid (even when the reader is nailbiting on her behalf)!

I could not put Santa Olivia down, and I highly recommend it. It had me on the edge of my seat, and while I was already a Jacqueline Carey fan, it has given me even more respect for her abilities. This is completely different from anything she's done before, and it's darn good.
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Jacqueline Carey's Santa Olivia is very different from her Kushiel and Sundering series, but is still good. Unlike her other works, which are set on a grand stage with a large cast of characters, Santa Olivia is set entirely in an isolated town trapped in a no-mans-land between Mexico and the United States, created following a flu pandemic that decimated the population and caused the U.S. to take extreme measures.

I found it to be a more intimate novel than her previous works, with fairly simple but gripping plot. The main character, Loup, is fascinating study of what a person would be like if they were born with all the human emotions except fear. Despite the suggested tags, this is not a "werewolf" novel - rather than being outside of society, Lupe is part of the fabric of this damaged town, despite (or perhaps because) of her extraordinary gifts.

Highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
I go through books like there's no tomorrow. This book, although completely different than the Kushiel's series, was a true pleasure to read and incredibly hard to put down. It goes without saying that the writing was excellent, the character development was true to Jacqueline's style and for being told in one location, it was a true adventure.

What I enjoyed most about this story was the Loup's ability to rise above her gender and circumstances. She was determined and yet conflicted in her resolve to do what she set out to do. It parallel's our own confliction in everyday life to make hard decisions.

In the same way Michael Crichton's books were perfectly setup for the big screen, this could easily be turned into a movie, except with WAY better writing! :)
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Santa Olivia was one of those rare books that I couldn't put down after the first several chapters (those chapters were awesome)! However, after getting near the middle of the book, I considered stopping altogether. It wasn't that the book wasn't well written or difficult to read. Quite the opposite. I finished it because it was easy to read and an interesting story. It certainly wasn't the love stories that made me lose interest either.

However, I started losing interest around the time where the story seemed to become nothing more than about boxing. This lasted for most of the book. I felt like I was reading a book about Rocky Balboa, though this time Rocky was a female wolf/human.

I had hoped to see "Santa Olivia" take vengeance on those who oppressed her people (maybe that's typical of me as a guy). However, I got the impression that Loup just isn't capable of being that wolf/human vigilante I was expecting and hoping for. If there's a sequel, I'll probably be too curious to pass it up. I'm hoping that she'll be a little meaner in the next book!

I really had a hard time choosing between 2, 3 and 4 stars. I'm going with 3 stars because I felt it was well written and a good story overall. However, it just wasn't my cup of tea.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book, and as someone else already mentioned, if you want to recommend a SFF book to someone not in the genre, this is it.

I won't get into the plot, as most others have already covered that. Instead, I'll speak as a fan.

This is NOT written like the Kushiel or Sundering books. NOT. In fact, the transformation of writing style is SO complete that even though I *knew* it was a book written by Ms. Carey, it did not read like it, and it threw me off a little. The only thing that really connects the two writing styles is the overall high quality of the story, characterization, world-building, and plot. Otherwise, had they put a pseudonym or pen name on the cover, I never would have guessed it was written by the same author as the Kushiel series, or The Sundering. I don't think I've ever seen an author change their style so much between books/series. (Or if I have and don't know it, it's because I'm not yet aware one of their series is under a pen name and they've managed to fool me.)

But all that said--this book is equally good in its own way as the Kushiel series. I know a lot of people couldn't get into the Sundering duology, but this one doesn't have that issue. It's good, even if it's a soft near-future Sci-Fi and not a fantasy. So long as you realize the style is drastically different when you start it and don't begrudge that, I don't think you'll be let down. (Otherwise, just wait for the next Kushiel book to come out in a little less than a month.)

One thing I noticed, particularly in the wake of the RaceFail thing that went around the SFF fandom and community a while back--this is probably the first really good book I've read since some of Octavia Butler's works that has a mostly non-white cast.
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