City of Light (Outcast, Book 1)
Penguin Signet (US & CA: 5th January 2016); Hachette Little, Brown Piatkus (UK: 5th January 2016; AU: 12th January 2016)
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It’s been a long time since I last read a Keri Arthur book, the final in the Riley Jenson series. (I own all the Dark Angel and Souls of Fire novels, but haven’t read them yet.) What I love about those are the serial killer cases to investigate.
City of Light, however, is an entirely different kettle of fish, though this Outcast world also has shifters and vampires, and the lead character is a hybrid. Tiger is a shifter-vampire humanoid, genetically engineered by the military to act as a “lure” – to seduce targets, collect their secrets, then kill them. This was during the time of the war between shifters and vampires that opened some rift that let wraiths and whatnot into Tiger’s world. (I still don’t understand rifts.)
I came in expecting a sci-fi novel, but it’s much more paranormal – which had me struggling to make sense and picture things. The biggest problem is Tiger herself. Her shifter genes came from a tiger, but not just any tiger – a WHITE tiger. The book acknowledges that white tigers are rare, but neglects to mention why – INBREEDING. Yes, there are some Bengal white tigers in the world, but mostly the white tigers you see are a result of inbreeding, which leads to health problems such as kidney issues.
So why don’t Tiger’s genes come from a regular orange-with-black-stripes tiger? White tigers don’t have special abilities, and as mentioned above they come with extra health concerns. So why would you use THEIR genes, instead of healthier genes? You wouldn’t. So the white tiger element does NOT MAKE SENSE. Tiger never shifts into a tiger, anyway – she shifts into other people, and “particles” consisting of shadows or a “sunshine shield”. So the only reason I can think of to include the white tiger aspect would be…aesthetics? Though in one scene, Tiger’s old friend refers to her being orange, which he should’ve known better about but Tiger acknowledges that and shags him anyway, even though she doesn’t trust him. *headdesk*
I can’t wrap my head around the world-building. I figured that the population was decimated during the war, but there’s still enough for the city to have at least TWO high-class brothels? Tiger scavenges for food, but that doesn’t explain how the bunker she lives in has power, if she can’t afford to pay it. Also, does she live IN a museum, or next to one? Her security set-up of laser grids and whatnot belong to the museum, I think, so I couldn’t quite follow.
And the ghosts. Tiger’s regular companions are Cat and Bear, whom at first I thought were ghosts of her colleagues in the military, but they’re actually ghost children. And we’re told that there are “hundreds” of “little ones” in Tiger’s bunker, but since we don’t individually meet them by name it’s kind of hard to care when their lives are at risk. (Well, their ghost lives.)
Had I understood the world more, I would’ve been better able to connect with the story and characters. Hopefully Book 2 will fill in the gaps so I won’t feel so baffled.