One of the most precious gifts we have is free will. Because (as Madeleine Albright says:)
“What people have the capacity to choose, they have the ability to change.”
But what if choice was never even an option for you? Someone says, “Jump!” and you scream back, “How high?” The meer thought of disobeying causes debilitating pain.
Any command, be it kidnapping, arson, murdering a member of your very own family MUST be obeyed. Suicide? Out of the question. Confessing to the local authorities? Nope. Good old fashioned avoidance? Instant pain.
What would you do?
How would you live?
Me? It’s safe to say I’d spontaneously combust. (Or at least I’d like to believe that.) Dimitri from Rainy Kaye’s novel “Summoned” well…he has a whole different bucket full of ideas. The most important being…fain total ignorance.
Move over Aladdin…there is a new genie in town. One that shuns the stigma of bottles and the color blue for things much more hip like murder, blowing up anthropology labs, and the age old genie tradition of one-night stands. His name is Dimitri and he got his selfish ass dumped over an apple. (Yes, I said apple.)
To be perfectly blunt, I didn’t like the beginning of this novel. Yes it was quippy, and quick witted (qualities I generally drool over) but lacked a certain amount of substance. To be more specific, it was page after page of pop-up murders and sex. Not that I’m apposed to either (literarily speaking) but I tend to appreciate story building as well, and the first half of “Summoned” just didn’t have any.
Here is the thing (*stands on soap box, dares people to look away*) you CANNOT build relationships based solely on physical attraction. Starting them off that way (aka: one-night stands) are perfectly acceptable, but in order for your audience to become invested, the characters must become invested as well. Dimitri and Syd’s relationship is a weird one. What starts off as a run-of-the-mill hook-up (wow, that made me sound like a floozie) eventually turns into the most important relationship of their entire existence. (Totally ok with that.) Unfortunately, the majority of their interaction takes place in the bedroom. (Dimitri fawning over his beautiful “rockstar’s” rockin’ body.) The few times they DO delve deeper, it’s awkward conversations about fruit flies and Greek mythology. Dimitri is physically incapable of telling Syd ANYTHING about himself. Syd is a clam, mouth closed. These two things together make it almost impossible to form any sort of lasting commitment to either character. (Despite Dim’s constant internal battle.) It wasn’t until their separation that I noticed growth in the story, (and ultimately them.)
So what does all of that mean?
It means you have to dig through the dirt to find the gem. And I did. (Praise Jesus.)
Kaye did NOT win me over in the first half of this novel (obviously) but the inattention to plot detail I severely despised suddenly morphed into a rather entertaining story about a doomed genie trying desperately to change his stars. The movement of the story started to pick up. Otherwise meaningless antidotes suddenly became important plot points. Kaye’s writing got grittier, darker, and the soul of Dimitri started to peek through. THIS is when I started to enjoy what I was reading. The insta-love between the characters no longer mattered, it was how Dimitri handled it that did.
There were pages and pages of nothing but descriptive passages and internal dialogue. Dimitri bleeding, broken, but determined. And all of it acted as a catalyst to a story that became almost too twisted to follow. I might not have necessarily believed in Syd and Dim’s passion for each-other, (for the record, neither did Syd at one point) but I DID believe in Dim’s sacrifice…which was all that was evidently necessary to grab my full attention.
So now that I’ve rambled for longer than is necessary, let me lay all of the cards on the table. Despite my initial annoyance, I DID (in fact) enjoy “Summoned.” It is flawed, but eventually those flaws don’t matter. What matters is being entertained. Which I was. Also important, I didn’t feel cheated at the end. (That’s code for cliffhanger.) Even though a sequel for this novel is in the works, “Summoned” had a full bodied ending. If I was to never pick up #2 (Stifled) I wouldn’t care. (Though I’m sure that’s not what Kaye wants to hear.) I was offered up Dimitri and Syd’s story. I read it. It ended. I feel fulfilled. Anything past that point is just a bonus.
In conclusion (gosh that sounded formal) it’s only $1.99 and 237 pages long…worth the money and the time.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: If someone asks you to pick them up an apple at the store, for the love of all that is holy…DO IT!