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Santa Olivia Paperback – May 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
_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.
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.
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! :)
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Jacqueline Carey hits another one out of the park! I'm not usually a fan of dystopian fantasy, but this had an amazingly sweet touch of realism that had me totally hooked. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Fran Tullo
Santa Olivia is unique, refreshing, and compelling. The worldbuilding and plot are exceptionally done and the characters leap off the page. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Oliver L.
I both liked and did not like this book. Honestly, I just don't understand why I didn't like it more. Read morePublished 8 months ago by A. Mack
I can see why Jacqueline Carey has such a huge following. Her writing is comfortable and smooth, like a good whiskey. Read morePublished 9 months ago by JKMFilms
There are a few grammatical issues that might bother fellow pedants, but overall this is an engaging read and interesting setting in a near-future post-apocalyptic world. Read morePublished 11 months ago by T.S. Smith
I struggled with rating this book. It was entertaining and had a storyline that kept my interest. It was simply written but powerfully told. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kim Howard
I was drawn to this book because I enjoy fantasy and the super-hero genre, and because Ms. Carey featured a lesbian protagonist and a positive lesbian romantic thread (most of Ms. Read morePublished 19 months ago by Nicole
I don't write reviews but I'm so going to have to read the rest of her works. Carey never lets you down.Published 22 months ago by Cari Silverwood