Dark Horse - Michelle Diener

Partway through Dark Horse, I found myself hoping that I'd not spent much money on this book because it really wasn't all that good. I mean, I finished it so it wasn't eye-gougingly awful (though it could have used a bit of a copy-edit, for a self-proclaimed award winning publication) but there were things about it that really made me go 'huh?'.

 

The premise of the book was interesting enough - our protagonist is Rose, a human snatched up from Earth by visiting aliens along with a bunch of other sentient creatures, who forges a friendship with the artificial intelligence that runs the ship she's on in order to escape. Unfortunately, by the time we join the story, much of that donkey work has already been done (the sceptical part of me thinking 'yep, the harder part to write') and Rose is literally escaping from their custody. The AI, Sazo, has also lured a spaceship from another bunch of aliens, one who he thinks Rose will get along with and who have an abhorrence for the kind of treatment she received, but she promises not to tell them he even exists. 

 

Naturally, when Rose is rescued by representatives of the Grih, she is immediately smitten by their captain and he feels likewise. He and his people save her life and take her back to their ship, at which point Rose discovers that in order to help her escape, Sazo has killed the majority of the crew on the ship where she'd been held. He wants access to the systems of this ship too, still not telling Rose that actually the Grih had done the work which led to his invention but that they also banned said work after similar incidents in the past. 

 

There's then some convoluted plotting which revolves around various people trying to get hold of Sazo in order to control him and the ship to which he's linked, and Rose having various mini-freakouts along the way as she tries to recover from the treatment she received in captivity. One thing that didn't impress me was that one of those episodes is seen as a great opportunity for the alien captain to grope Rose's breasts and ask if all the women of her people have big breasts like she does. Seriously, dude, timing? Likewise, when the two of them are stuck together somewhere later with time on their hands, Rose seems to regard this as meaning they really ought to shag now and so they do, because of course their species are physiologically compatible.

 

Anyway, Dark Horse wasn't the worst thing I've ever read but the issues around consent and whether it's a good idea to trust homicidal artificial intelligences were significant bumps in the road for me. Oh, and Rose makes a real fuss early on about the other lifeforms which have been stolen from Earth with her but then everyone seems to completely forget about them later on. Not a major issue, but it stuck in my brain.

 

Apparently there are more books set in this universe, but skimming them they all seem to be 'human woman gets kidnapped by aliens, different aliens rescue her, there is sex along the way of fixing some plot issue or other'. Frankly, one was enough.