Disclaimer: I have read an advance reviewer copy, some details may change in the final commercial copy

I want to thanks Angry Robot and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this book.

I have been wondering lately what makes a story good. In the Spanish film industry we are living right now a unique moment that no one saw coming, for the first time in Spanish history a Spanish movie has made more money than any American film has ever done (except for Avatar). This movie, 8 apellidos vascos (which in English has been translated as Spanish Affair), is a comedy about the cultural differences between the south and the north of Spain. It isn’t something entirely new and, while it is true is really funny, it is not one of those movies one would expect to do almost 50 million Euros in Spain alone (not even Titanic did that). So, is it the story itself? The actors (the Amazing Carmen machi, Dani Robira and the talented Clara Lago)? Or is it maybe the economic crisis and the social tension between the north and the south? I don’t know, I feel I need more beers in order to find the answer.

Peacemaker-CR

Strong points: the setting.

Weak points: Clichés, some events feel forced.

Peacemaker, written by Marianne de Pierres, tells us the story of Virgin Jackson, a ranger in the last natural landscape on earth. Now, her beloved Park has become a murder scene during her watch and is up to her and her new partner, the enigmatic Marshal Nate Sixkiller, to find the killer before the obsessive detective Chance manages to frame Virgin herself for the murder and to discover why Aquila, Virgin’s eagle-shaped imaginary friend from her childhood, has reappeared the same night said crime was committed.

If there is anything that makes Peacemaker a worthwhile reading it is, undoubtedly, its setting. Marianne de Pierre has managed to create a wonderful world which mixes science fiction and urban fantasy creating something unique: a society which mixes technology and shamanistic magic in a way that feels natural and is rapidly accepted by the reader. It is also worth it to note that the urban landscape where the novel takes place is varied and full of life, being similar to a real city in its complexity and social rules instead of the overly used clichés we find out in fictional cities such as “the zone where no one under any circumstances should enter which you know the hero will have to enter” or the “uppity zone where everyone is a heartless bastard”. Ms de Pierres manages to create a megacity which feels real and which serves as home to a group of unforgettable inhabitants.

Sadly, the story-telling fares worse. The novel goes from cliché to cliché and by halfway through the book it has lost its original flavor. The relationship between the characters is one big cliché, dividing the male group in two categories: those who are in love with Virgin and those who have a paternal relationship with Virgin. This makes the novel a highly predictable love pentagon (really?) between Virgin and her cohorts of male suitors, which works fine with her due to the fact that every one of her four admirers have a unique skill that gets her through the story: Sixkiller shoots things, Totes hacks things, Heart charms things and Hamish drives things (and runs them over). The events don’t escape this effect either and are soon a predestined chain of events which doesn’t manage to finish catching the reader’s attention, even the ending, unexpected as it is, seems borrowed from other books that come before it.

As a result of the story walking an over-used path, some of the events feel forced in order to create a result. The whole relationship Sixkiller-Virgin goes in a cycle distrust-trust-distrust-trust without any apparent motive as do their feelings, one moment they are colleagues and the next they are giving the other person “The Look”. Sometimes they feel more like puppets than actual characters, just fulfilling the necessary functions to reach a decided result.

While this may not be Angry Robot’s best book by a long shot (Age Atomic and The Lives of Tao hold that title for now and they are difficult to top) Peacemaker is not a bad book either if all you are looking for is to relax and enjoy your free time. After all, what makes a good story? Is it the story itself? Or is it the moment when you read it?

FINAL SCORE: 5/10

¡Hasta la próxima!

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