Saturday, July 30, 2016
REVIEW: Medic to the Hivemind (e-short story) by Kayla Bashe
I decided not to include any read-alikes. This review includes slight spoilers.
Tash Blumenthal, a medical student, is the only survivor when the research ship she's on crash lands on a planet swarming with the Sprawl, an alien hivemind that can forcibly take over other beings' bodies. She'd have died, maybe even been taken over herself, if it hadn't been for Soleil's help. Although Soleil was just a voice coming from Tash's comm pendant, her advice, encouragement, and general presence kept Tash alive long enough for a ship to arrive and rescue her.
Tash is both nervous and excited at the chance to finally meet her savior. She's attracted to Soleil and hopes the feelings are mutual – but can Tash's budding feelings for Soleil survive learning the woman's biggest secret?
I picked this up because I heard it was sweet f/f sci-fi romance. The short length concerned me, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.
While the romance was sweet, the execution didn't work for me. The short length really did hurt this story. Most of it took place after Tash's rescue, with brief flashbacks to Tash's time on the planet. I loved the flashbacks and wished they'd been longer. However, the parts set after Tash's rescue moved a bit too quickly. Bashe didn't manage to convince me that Tash was truly in love with Soleil, and not just crushing on the woman who helped her during the worst and most dangerous time of her life.
Also, Soleil's secret was revealed to Tash and the rest of the ship's crew too soon and too suddenly (readers were told fairly early on, which was probably a good thing, since it was pretty obvious). Tash went from “OMG, am I being too annoying and nerdy, and does she like me the way I like her?” to “I hate her and hope she dies” in an instant. The emotional whiplash was rough. Her subsequent confusion and uncertainty made sense, but everything seemed to move just a bit too quickly. I needed more time to get to know these characters.
A question I was left with, that Tash should have thought to ask but didn't: if Soleil eventually gathered more minds for her hivemind, would her and Tash's bond mean that Tash was bonded to the whole hivemind, or would Tash still just be bonded to Soleil's individual mind? The first option seemed like something Tash might have trouble with, while the second option seemed like it could cause problems with the hivemind. In general, I felt that Tash didn't ask enough questions, period.
I wish this had been longer and more fleshed out. It also had some awkwardly phrased sentences that could have used more work. One example: “I outrank you – do you know how much I am your superior in terms of age and experience?” (24) Oh, and the publisher really needs to be more consistent. The publisher site and cover state that the title is Medic to the Hive Mind. Smashwords and the book itself say that the title is Medic to the Hivemind.