My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I did some thinking. And more. And more still. However, I arrived at the same conclusion as when I started; I just wasted a lot of time, which I especially don’t regret. So let’s get on with it already.
Written in Red is a paranormal book set in present time but different world. A world where humans are creatures of prey, hunted by shape-shifting, blood-sucking monsters and such.
Very familiar. After all, we are very much acquainted with the concept of humans somehow not being the apex predator, which of course, dutifully results in an anarchy or abolustism or tyranny, with the monstrous beasts holding all the threads. The bottom line is: only humans can run the world or it will result in a frenzied dystopia. I mean, what are all the vampire books about?
But… what if you found a way to cooperate? And not in the sense that they’ll let you live if you give them periodic donations and live under them. No, no, ma’am, sirs. What if it was mutual cooperation where only those who crossed turfs without prior notice were killed (hideously)? What if the humans could find a way to employ their ingenuity and technology to reach a middle ground without the shedding of blood? And this book delivers it all.
Humans have found to way to co-exist with the monsters the terra indigene(Earth Natives). The surface workings of their world aren’t much different from ours. But it’s the shadows that matter.
Humans live in constant fear of the terra indigene because while they continue in peaceful co-existence, no one ever forgets who the predator is or the prey. And it all blew away. Figuratively.
The book gives us a world at peace but there is always the underlying fear and mistrust among the characters of one species(or something) towards the other. Anne Bishop has written such exclusive ‘voices’(there are very, very many of them) which convey their emotions and give us a proper understanding of the whole world of theirs. And I just can’t get past the world-building and characters’ voices. Not so the characterization, however. There isn’t anything I can pinpoint that didn’t work for me but I believe it was the multiple POV’s. It takes a whole book to start caring for a character and there are about 6-7 people between whom the book swings. They were original and intangible characters but I could only bring myself to care about a few and those were the super-duper awesome and terrifying ones whose voices played very little part.
The basic plot of the story…umm… oh wait, there isn’t one in the beginning. The story and plot are what I look for firstly in a novel. I generally don’t care for books that aren’t plot-driven. Yet, this isn’t the case here. From the starting, this book isn’t much but a barrage of characters, with very interesting backgrounds mingling with each other, thrown in an awesomely created and very detailed world. But the plot constructs as the story develops. People cross each others’ paths, mingle, cheat, lie among other more nefarious things, and weave a cross-hatched blanket of a story that will continue on in more books. Similar to what happens in real life. And perhaps this needn’t be said but I loved it.
As I’ve mentioned, there are various POV’s. Some of them are humans’ and other beasts’. The terra indigene intrigued me and their way of thinking and conversing was distinct from humans’. One of the superficial instances is the ‘the’ one. Whilst talking about humans they know and consider acquaintances and such, the terra indigene would add ‘the’ before their names, like ‘the Ruthie’, as if to separate them from the whole species of humans who don’t matter.
This book is also insidiously subversive, IMO. The last battle-which wasn’t really a battle but it sounds tremendously better- is all about nature’s fury. Humans tamper with nature and they reap what they sow. Because the terra indigene are creatures of nature and sometimes they are nature and this book gives us a liberal view of what would happen if we were to disturb the environment.
Overall, this book was exceedingly remarkable and shrewd but not without its flaws, and I would recommend it to you without a second thought.