Lexi Vale, a cyborg with a smart mouth and attitude for miles is about to become the most sought-after person in Foundation, the slums surrounding a Codist enclave. She is the only recipient to have survived having a computer chip codenamed Project Sky implanted in her brain. Now that the Codists know of her existence, they want her back to find out how she survived. Lexi is reasonably certain the process will end in her death.
Mineko Tamura is the daughter of high-ranking Codists. Unable to stand her people’s strict ways and rigid social structures, she is trying to undermine their plans, which involves tipping Lexi off. Though mesmerized by the charming Lexi, she stays behind to keep an eye on her parents and the other Codists who so desperately want to bring Lexi in, but can she escape the effects of their indoctrination.
Meanwhile, Lexi is on the run. She hasn’t survived for as long and with as smart a mouth as she has without making more than one enemy. Unfortunately, enemies and former friends are all Lexi has to turn to. Can she escape the Codists with her brain intact? Will those helping her tire of her smartassery? And can Mineko hold on to her own sense of self long enough for Lexi’s escape attempt to succeed.
French has created a veritable stable full of unique and intriguing characters. Just when I thought one of them was my favorite, she would introduce another one and I would fall in love all over again. While Lexi and Mineko are what passes for the main characters of this story, many of the other characters are by no means minor.
Lexi Vale is the street-smart cyborg with a tongue that’s razor sharp and a wit that’s almost too fast for her own good. She stays out or trouble by relying on her charm and the mind-reading capability brought to her by Project Sky. She is quick to turn situations around to her own advantage. Lexi is also fairly amoral, a fact which helps her survive in the shattered slums where she lives without having to rely on anybody else. At first, the reader knows as much about Lexi as she’s willing to show to the outside world, but as the story progresses, her story is slowly revealed, giving the reader a much different lens through which to view her.
Mineko Tamura is very much Lexi’s opposite. Her character is highly ethical, though she questions the morality of how she was raised. While Lexi is a highly sexual being and goes after what she wants, Mineko questions that aspect of herself. The Codists are against same-sex relationships, but Mineko finds herself drawn to other women. Though physically, she probably isn’t that much younger than Lexi, her sheltered upbringing makes her seem almost decades younger.
Callie Roux is a young mechanic who helps Lexi, even though Lexi played a major part in some youthful heartbreak for her. She also befriends Mineko. Callie’s main interests lie in tinkering with machines and driving. She has a sunny disposition, which often clouds over when Lexi is near.
Riva Latour is a sweetheart. She works with a group of real Social Justice Warriors called the Open Hand. They provide a soup kitchen and places for the homeless to sleep and get medical attention, as well as plot to overthrow the Codists in their compound and keep the gangs who run the slums in check. Riva helps out around the place and helps patch Lexi and the others up. When they move on, Riva goes with them.
Kade is a lonely journalist trying to make the slums a better place. He occasionally works with the Open Hand. He and Lexi have a very long past, and like anyone who’s spent much time with the cyborg, he tries to keep her at a distance. In his own past lurk some pretty tragic secrets, one of which binds him and Lexi together in ways neither of them would prefer to acknowledge.
This is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many other supporting characters, each with their own back story and place in the story. Two others worth mentioning are Zeke a body-modification artist who employs some interesting survival techniques, and Amity second in command of Open Hand and something of an avenging angel. They round out the supporting cast nicely.
The Writing Style
French has created a deep world here, with many layers simply begging to be pulled back and explored. The world she has fashioned is as detailed and immersive as her characters. Her dialogue is snappy, ranging to the realm of banter with happy frequency.
With such a range of characters to keep straight (pun completely intended since the cast is the least straight group of individual I’ve ever seen in my life), French has her work cut out for her. She manages by clearly labeling the chapters with the name of the point-of-view character. While most of the story is shared by Lexi and Mineko, Kade gets his turn also. Lexi is the epitome of an unreliable narrator as she lies to herself as easily as she lies to others, so having the others chime in is certainly welcome.
There is more representation of LGBT characters than I think I’ve found in any other single novel, and not just the number but also the variety. The world is well-realized and attention-grabbing. Each character, no matter how minor, has their own voice and something to say.
I want more, but I haven’t heard if there’s going to be a sequel. The book certainly sets itself up as ripe for continuation, though the story wraps up nicely. I’d really like to find out what happens to Lexi and the rest of the cast after the ending. Also, while there’s a decent amount of sex, the romance is only hinted at. I don’t find this to be a con, but expectations for lesfic being what they are, there you have it.
Also not a con, but it bears mentioning. There are sex scenes in this book and not all the characters are “womyn-born-womyn.” If this bothers you, you may be better served in looking elsewhere. I hope you won’t, as the scene is handled with grace and aplomb. I, for one, welcome the departure from the rigid strictures of lesfic, but I know not everyone is there yet.
This book is amazing. If you want something that feels like no other lesfic sci-fi novel you’ve ever read, look no further. The author’s unique voice and ample talents in world-building and character-creation make this a more than worthwhile read, and one of my very favorites. It is a book about which I will happily shout to the rooftops in an attempt to get you to read it.
Excerpt from Reintegration by Eden S French
“Alexis.” It was a young woman’s voice, steady and insistent. “Please. I need to talk to you.”
Lexi pulled away from the embrace, leaving her companion to pout in the corner of the booth. “I’m a little busy here,” she said as she turned.
Her irritation immediately gave way to curiosity. The arrival wore a blue, gold-buttoned overall. Either she was a shut-in or, for whatever kinky reason, had chosen to dress like one. Her black hair had been swept into long bangs concealing the left side of her face, which was quite pretty—slender features, golden skin, mono-lidded eyes and a serious expression betrayed by the nervous twitching of her lips and the blush burning all the way to her neck.
“I’m sorry to interrupt.” The shut-in studied the glossy tips of her boots. “But your life is in danger.”
“Go away,” said the girl huddled in the booth. “She’s mine.”
The shut-in took a deep breath and raised her head again. Despite her obvious anxiety, her clear green eyes were resolute. “My name is Mineko. I’m not leaving until I’ve spoken to you.”
Lexi was having a good time, and it was well on the way to being upgraded to excellent. But a shut-in in a place like this? Too unusual to ignore.
Get This Book On Amazon
(Link works for Amazon US, UK and Ca)
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9783955339265
- Publisher: Ylva Publishing