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Santa Olivia is my choice for “A book from an author you love that you haven't read yet” in the 50 Book Challenge.


Santa Olivia


I both liked and did not like this book. Honestly, I just don't understand why I didn't like it more. I'm a huge wax-poetic-about-Jacqueline-Carey fan, it had the kind of out-there premise that I love writing myself – and it worked. It had damn near everything I love: badass female Latina LGBT protagonist (more please!), dystopia, super powers, wolf hybrids, vigilante justice, viva la résistance, sex, cursing clergy... Okay, I'll admit that the many “fucks” coming from everyone's mouths right off the bat did, surprisingly, turn me off a bit. 'Surprisingly' because I'm usually all about the fucks. I don't know, I guess it seemed a bit overload in an attempt to say, “Hey, this is going to be a dark & dirty journey”...but then it wasn't exceptionally dark and dirty. Gay sex, subversion, sacrilege, and yet somehow much blander than expected.

I believe that part of this is due to the somewhat lackluster MC. Genetically-altered Loup, born of an escaped super soldier-type, grows up without knowing her father and has only vague hints about her true heritage. She just knows that she's different. She literally does not experience fear (or any of its sister emotions), which is handled well in a unique way regarding her upbringing. Carey does a great job of showing this, but it really leaves us with a completely unimpassioned main character. I know this was purposeful, because Carey writes beautifully complex characters and she does a great job of showing us the passion that Loup (and her father) incite in others, but I really would have loved to see some form of true passion, or a less one-dimensional character, in Loup. She fights injustice, she plots a childhood-long revenge scheme, she gets 'swept' up in a one-true-love-mate trope, and yet she really just kind of gets swept along in her own story. A typical scene goes like this:

-Any random supporting character- “Loup, you mustn't put yourself in danger like that!/Must be more circumspect!/You'll be the death us all!/We'll be friends forever no matter what!/You can totally DO THE THING!/I love you so, so, so, so much!/I need you, baby, right here & right now!”

-Loup- “Okay.”

Now, don't get me wrong, there were parts that I thoroughly enjoyed. The story had a good flow and satisfying ending, but at the same time, I would set it down for days – even a week – at a time and simply forget about it. It didn't grip me and leave me up reading nonstop, for days if I have to, to find out what happens, like most of Carey's books do. I got a notice from the library that it was due in a couple days and returned to it to realize that I was 2 pages away from the end and had simply forgotten all about the book. It was a decent story, I really liked the boxing angle, and I'll probably read the sequel because I like supporting Carey and want to see how she finishes this one up. But when it comes down to it, I just didn't really feel any passion at all with this one despite having so many aspects that I usually love. Unfortunately, that makes my meh-response all the more noticeable and disappointing.