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Saturday, September 19, 2009

'Psy-Changeling' SERIES by Nalini SINGH

In the year 2079 there are three races co-existing on planet earth:

Humans.

Changelings – part humans, part ‘other’ – able to change into animal form at will.

And Psy. In this alternate reality, Psy were a dying race that implemented ‘silence’ in order to stunt their emotions and increase their survival rates. In the 1970’s ‘silence’ was introduced and Psy have thought themselves above their human and changeling counterparts ever since.

Nalini Singh’s ‘Psy-Changeling’ series tells the story of one leopard changeling pack in San Francisco called ‘DarkRiver’, and the packs various Alpha males who begin to crack the stoic exterior of the Psy race, and a few of it’s token females.

I am totally behind the times in reading this series that started in 2006 with ‘Slave to Sensation’. Ever since I became obsessed with the Urban Fantasy genre this series has been cropping up on my radar – Amazon recommended it. Several blogs I read list these books on their ‘must read’ lists, and various chat-boards promise that if you’re a fan of other series like Gena Showlaters ‘Lords of the Underworld’ and Larissa Ione’s ‘Demonica’, then ‘Psy-Changeling’ is right up your alley.

So I finally succumbed.

Singh’s series is nothing new. It follows the structure of several other paranormal romance series, in that the story tracks the various lives and loves of the members of one community. The same way JR Ward’s series follows the lives of each member of the ‘Blackdagger Brotherhood’, or Kelley Armstrong details the adventures of the linked female supernatural’s in her ‘Women of the Otherworld’ series. Singh isn’t exactly reinventing the wheel, but that’s okay, because her ‘Psy-Changeling’ story delivers on the promise of such a tried and tested formula – mainly that readers will get equal parts science fiction and romance.

This series has plenty of Alpha male goodness, and Singh delivers ten-fold on the implied sex and sensuality on the books’ covers.

While these books may look a little trashy and predictable, the interwoven Psy storyline adds a meatier layer of suspense and intelligence.

The Psy storyline reminded me a little bit of the 2002 film starring Christian Bale; ‘Equilibrium’ (seriously, if you’re a fan of this series, check out that movie – great storyline, but more importantly it also has Christian Bale shirtless and buff… you’re welcome).

The Psy storyline works because it adds a layer of mystery to each new book as the DarkRiver pack continue to discover the various cracks and faults in the Psy system. Silence was originally supposed to only eradicate the emotion of rage, to curb violence. But because it was too difficult to pin down and dissolve only one emotion, ‘silence’ instead eradicated all feeling from the Psy race. Come to think of it, the Psy storyline also reminds me of Joss Whedon’s 2005 film ‘Serenity’….

I have to admit that at times the Psy storyline dragged me down and confused me. There’s lots of talk about Tk M-Psy with gradient level 1.5 – sometimes I just tuned out and flipped pages to get to the good stuff. The Psy plot is interesting when it’s the Changeling pack discussing their various discoveries, but less so when Singh let’s us enter the Psy world and get a glimpse of their steely, structured universe.

I did enjoy this series. My favourite DarkRiver Alpha was undoubtedly Clay, and his story ‘Mine to Posess’ was my favourite – mostly because his relationship with his human mate, Talin, was messy and complicated. Clay was a fascinating character, pegged the mostly likely leopard to go ‘rogue’ and possibly one day turn into his animal form and never return to human. Talin was a great match for him – mainly because she wasn’t a perfect, prissy female – she’s a survivor with the scars to prove it.

My least favourite was ‘Caressed by Ice’. This was the third novel in the series, but the first to stray from the DarkRiver pack and instead focus on the leopard’s neighbouring wolf pack, SnowRiver. This book told the story of Brenna who was once abused by a rogue Psy, and her mate, an ex-Psy called Judd. This novel was just a bit jarring for me – I was immersed in the leopard pack, and then had to read about this other Changeling community that was on my periphery, that I really didn’t care about. That being said, I would love to read the story of SnowRiver’s Alpha wolf, Hawke (a wolf called Hawke, I love it!) he intrigued me from the get-go in ‘Slave to Sensation’ and I’m a little surprised that his story hasn’t been told yet…

So, this series isn’t anything especially original. But if you are a fan of paranormal romance and Urban Fantasy then rest assured, this series is for you.

2.5/5

3 comments:

  1. Clay was my favorite too - and I am greatly anicipating Hawke and Sienna, whenever that will be. Love this series..one of my favorites.

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  2. I've only read the first two books in the series, having a hard time getting to book 3. I like the storyline, but find myself skimming over the technical stuff (the M Psy gradient stuff). Although, I've been wanting to read another shapeshifter book, maybe now is a good time to get back into the series! Nice review.

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  3. Patti - I would suggest skipping book 3 and going straight to 4, 'Mine to Possess'. It's easily the best book in the whole series and you won't miss out on any crucial information by not reading the 3rd book.

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