Formats available: paperback, ebook, audiobook
Genre: science fiction romance
Length: 320 pages
Publisher: Tor Books
Date Released: April 1, 2014
Purchasing Info: Author’s Website, Publisher’s Website, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Book Depository
Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters — the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.
* * *
Asha and Pax — strangers and enemies — find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.
Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource — information — viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.
Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.
Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.
With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.
Cassandra was right, but no one listened to her. In The Ophelia Prophecy, a lot of people have an interest in making Ophelia’s predictions come true, whether they should or not.
This is definitely science fiction, but of the genetic engineering/biopunk/dystopian type, rather than the space opera version. We don’t travel off-planet, just into a not-too-distant future where the humans have been the authors of their own destruction, something that is certainly not implausible.
In this future, the desire to create “better, stronger, faster” soldiers to use against other humans led to a scientific breakthrough; the ability to splice insect and animal DNA into human DNA in order to create hybrid supersoldiers.
While it sounds like the “not-so-mad scientists” experimented with everything under the sun, by the time the story starts, the dominant hybrids are the Manti; human/insect hybrids. The Manti are not just dominant among hybrids, they have also reduced the “pure human” population to a small handful, using both semi-conventional warfare and bio-terrorism.
There’s an element of “Romeo and Juliet” meets “Frankenstein” in The Ophelia Prophecy. We start the story with a human woman and a Manti soldier in the Badlands outside the last human Sanctuary, waking up from unconsciousness with neither of them remembering exactly how they got there.
All they each know is that the other is supposed to be the enemy. But if it were that simple, there wouldn’t be a story.
Asha is hunting for her lost father. She believes that the Manti kidnapped him, for purposes unknown. And she’s half right.
Paxton is searching for a purpose. His father is the political leader of the Manti government, but the 25 years of unquestioned Manti supremacy have turned him into an autocrat. Pax is looking for a better way.
Instead, they find each other. Pax’ mission is to take Asha back to Manti HQ in Granada, to discover what she knows about how they ended up together in the first place. While at first she is his unwilling prisoner, the more they interact the more they discover in common. And the more that Asha learns about the true state of her world.
Nothing is as it seems. Not for Asha, and, it turns out, not for Pax.
Escape Rating B+: I wanted this to be longer. Or for there to be another book. There is so much more to be discovered in this world, and the place the story ends has the feeling of a new beginning, or the start of another chapter.
Pax and Asha start out on opposite sides. He’s the Manti Prince, and she’s the daughter of a member of the human governing council. What they have in common in that neither of them is content with their society’s version of the status quo. They each want answers.
We see this world through Asha’s eyes. She starts out unhappy with the conditions in Sanctuary, but believing in the version of the world that she has been told. Except that she studies the beginning of the war in the Archives, and things don’t seem to quite add up. Because they don’t.
The more Asha sees of the world beyond Sanctuary, the more her perspective changes. The more she learns, the more we learn. She discovers that not all humans are her allies, and not all Manti are her enemies, through some very hard lessons.
What she discovers is that Pax may be the only one she can rely on, but it’s a lesson that she figures out by trial and error. They are often in conflict because he takes away many of her choices, so she goes down the opposite path just to feel like she is choosing for herself.
The romance is downplayed. There’s an element of fated-mate syndrome, but one that both parties fight as long as possible. Pax because he doesn’t want to be a slave to his biology, and Asha because she has a primary mission to find her father, and becoming too involved with Pax will not get her where she needs to go.
The bits we see of Manti society are fascinating. The politics are cut-throat, and every bit as intimately deadly as The Game of Thrones. I wish we could see more!