Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: "Zero Sight" by B. Justin Shier

"Zero Sight" will inevitably draw comparisons to Harry Potter and, to a lesser extent, Twilight. Like Harry Potter, it's a story of a boy from an unhappy home who goes away to school to be trained in the working of magic. Like Twilight, it's a story about two young adults who find themselves drawn to each other — except one of them is a vampire.

Whether those similarities make "Zero Sight" more or less appealing will likely depend on how you felt about Potter and Twilight. For the record, I enjoyed the Harry Potter series, I didn't make it past the first Twilight book, and I really liked this book.

In "Zero Sight," we're introduced to Dieter Resnick, a high school senior (and, unbeknownst to him, a latent mage) who's driven to get out of Las Vegas and away from his abusive drunk of a father. He's pinned his hopes for the future on college, so when he gets an offer from the elite Elliot College, Dieter's moving to Connecticut. On his way, he meets with Rei, a strange but beautiful young woman who winds up saving his life — and who turns out to be both a vampire and a classmate of his. The two of them will have their hands full, dealing with attacks on their college by a mysterious group of counter-mages. It's a good thing they've formed a bond.

Dieter struggles with his attraction to Rei. She's beautiful, yes, but she's a vampire. To Dieter's credit, he's disgusted by her nature, and he has a hard time reconciling his feelings toward her with the fact that she drinks human blood. She suffers no conflicts about her nature, though, and it's refreshing, after the recent trend of vampires-as-tortured-sex-symbols-with-special-dietary-

"It's just weird. Here we are, talking normally, but I'd have expected your kind to be amoral killing machines. Lestat-style, you know?"

Rei cocked her head and the blue faded from her eyes. "That would be a very healthy assumption to make." She gazed into me, and my heartbeat started to race in reply. Rei's face had changed. The softness was gone. It looked like it was etched out of marble rather than flesh. She was cold. Lifeless. The voice that leaked out of her lips was devoid of humanity. The melodic timber was gone, replaced by that silky hiss. I could hardly draw breath, and an unreasonable terror clamped down on my body. An ancient part of my brain yelled shrilly: That predator. You prey. Back the fuck off.

"Zero Sight" is an excellent start to a series. The writing is good, and though the book could use another read-through by a proof reader, the occasional errors weren't glaring enough to detract from the reading. The secondary characters are just getting fleshed out by the end of the book, as is the system of magic, but both promise to be handled well in future entries.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, and I bought the sequel right away. Guess what's coming next week.

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