Chrysalis Corporation by T.A. Venedicktov

I’m rating this three stars out of five but honestly feel that might be a bit generous considering the frustrations I had with this book. Unlike many indies, the writing is smooth and there are only a few grammar/typos. But a debilitating lack of impetus after the first third of the book and mind numbing emphasis on romance and sex over story/sci fi left me very bored. The book is 15% sci fi, 65% romance, and 20% sex. That wasn’t a mix that was ever going to hold my interest; I guess I should have taken the hint that the authors weren’t serious when I saw the silly spelling of the pseudonymous last name with the word ‘dick’ in it.

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Story: Damion Hawk enlists in the military to work his way up and become an elite pilot. When a homocidal ‘altered human’ called a Core persuades the commander to promote Damion to become his personal pilot, things don’t look good for the young man. But the two form a bond that adversaries and the mysterious creators of the Cores, the Chrysalis Corporation, just can’t break. Can Damion and his Core survive murderous team mates as well as rebels who want them dead?

The big problem with Chrystalis Corporation is that the authors are promoting a message that the engineered and bred Core are people and should be free. The message gets redundant after awhile but the authors still managed to forget it: Damion constantly demands the Core tell him he is his property and takes over his life completely. He even names his Core – instead of allowing the Core to name himself. In all, the authors defeat their own message constantly, consequently defeating any chance the reader has of taking the plot seriously.

As well, everything in the story feels very engineered (and not just with the Cores). From the silly romance-novel names (Damion Hawk?? Really?) to the random names that will probably make a point later but are pretty stupid now (“Requium” for Damion’s Core – obviously meant as an homage at the end of the series that he would be the last enslaved human but completely random and too deus ex machina at this point in the story). Dialogue is stilted, improbable situations set up so we get over the top melodramatic rescues from mustache-twirling baddies, and trumped up reasons to make the Core “dangerous and homicidal” but in a morally acceptable way (he was mistreated horrifically). It was just too pat and the authors took no chances whatsoever here.

Most egregious to me was that I was bored after the first 1/3. Nothing happened really except little trips to other worlds and the two guys ‘bonding’. There’s a lot of alpha male BS to trod through and the sex scenes were so long and overdrawn that I was in serious danger of wearing out the ‘next page’ button on my kindle from hitting it so fast and often, desperately trying to get to the plot again. Turns out, it wasn’t going to be found until the last 10 pages or so.

The Chrystalis Corporation is really a Twinkie of a book – Perhaps good for a quick bite but you don’t want to digest too much/many. Nor very (ful)filling – you’ll be hungry for more solid work immediately after. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.

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