***** Audacious, disturbing, exciting and … bad
There is always a first time, and this is mine to review in an erotic novel. But be careful: as you can see by the number of stars, we are faced with something very special.
Take a superhero (the male lead), a dark one like Batman, but with true superpowers obtained with sci-fi treatments, wealthy, heir of scientists, with a huge house and a faithful butler, but imagine him bad, even bloody, often without control, taking pleasure in being evil, although in general (!) he is so only with the bad guys. In short, a character halfway between good and evil, definitely an anti-hero.
And then there is the female protagonist: the usual orphaned, penniless, messy, a wee bit naive (but only at the beginning) girl, but a tough, combative one, who has a real growth along the story.
Add to the mix a bit of Stockholm syndrome with lots of sexual abuse, and here’s “Hero”.
The elements taken individually are already seen, but the combination is certainly original. The genre fades between erotic, dark romance, science fiction and a bit of action, all well seasoned with a good dose of introspection. Unless you are frightened by the content, if decide to read it, keeping in mind what to expect, well, you might appreciate it, especially since it’s a written well book (as far as my knowledge of English allows me to evaluate).
But let’s see the details. What’s so positive in this book to deserve five stars?
First of all, unlike other books of this genre, it has neither a prologue nor epilogue, which typically add nothing to the stories, so their absence is a blessing.
Then there is, as I said above, the originality in mixing elements creating something quite new. The characters are characterised by a considerable psychological depth, which is shown little by little, and undergo a clear evolution in this sense, although not necessarily for the better. This evolution is developed in a balanced way throughout the book, which is long enough.
The prose has a refined structure and a never dull language, which maintains a high level in all chapters.
The dual perspective sharply divided between the two characters makes them both equally protagonists. In this sense, the parts from the point of view of him are in my opinion the most interesting, precisely because of the darkness of the character, while those from the point of view of her sometimes lack in originality.
The erotic scenes are almost all functional to the plot and not put there to make up the numbers, threatening to bore the reader. But the real strength of the book is given by the dialogues, which are of great emotional impact, because much of the conflict that holds the plot is conveyed through them.
Some might turn up their noses to the excessive wickedness of the male protagonist against the female one (there are several really heavy situations, wanting to put it mildly), but the author gets along quite well by introducing a sci-fi explanation, which can somehow justify this dark side, and at the same time offers a compelling resolution of the story.
Moreover, the story unfolds in the right timing, in the order of months rather than days, thanks to the length of the book, and this increases its credibility in dealing with a thorny issue as the Stockholm syndrome.
Finally, the novel ends with an open ending, which isn’t cheesy at all. It is true that this seems to be only the first of a series of books, but I appreciate the decision to close it allowing the reader to imagine what would happen next.
For completeness, I must say that this novel is followed by a novella, which doesn’t reach the same level of quality, but it seems more an element of transition to a next novel, which has yet to come out.
Clearly there are also negative elements, and I cannot avoid mentioning them. In particular, I find regrettable the choice to use two points of view both in first person. There isn’t much one can do about it: they create confusion. I know that many authors in this genre make use of this technique, which is in my opinion questionable, but especially because they all use it you should try to do something different. If you do not want to venture into complex narrative structures, you can always resort to the good old close limited third person, which, forcing the author to say the name of the point of view’s character at the beginning of the chapter or scene, avoids writing it in a title (another annoying practice) and avoids any kind of confusion by the reader.
Finally I have to criticise the description of the book that immediately reveals the identity of the male protagonist. It’s a spoiler. It would have been much better if the reader had discovered it by reading the book, in which it is revealed only when the female protagonist discovers it (around a quarter of the story). For this reason, if you are ever going to try this book, maybe by downloading the preview, do not read the synopsis, because otherwise it will ruin the surprise.
Hero on Amazon.