on Feb. 22, 2017 :
It’s been a long time since I’ve read a whole book in one sitting. Even if I wanted to, who has the time to do that these days?! Well, with this book I had no choice: I kept reading, and it was 4:34 am by the time I finished. …oops? But I’m sure I won’t be the only one compelled to keep reading and reading this story, and then feel bereft when it’s over.
Hidden Faults is set within Somerville’s vast (truly vast) “Periter” series, which spans centuries and jumps from one continent to another from book to book (and sometimes within books). I love visiting this world, but I don’t think readers will need to have read the others to become immersed in this story. Savvy readers will get right on board with the standard dystopian-like, repressive-manipulative government that the characters are fighting against here. If you have read other stories in this ‘verse, though, then this story will be a welcome addition, and a logical progression in its timeline.
In Hidden Faults we have a world where “paranormals”, the staple group of characters for stories in this ‘verse, are greatly repressed and controlled, as are, incidentally, “deevs”, including homosexuals- which is a timely and all-too-believable reminder that a government inclined to persecute one group within society is very likely to go after many more. As such, Hidden Faults is one of the few Somerville stories to explore homophobia in any real detail. I can’t say I enjoyed that element of the story, as I’ve been spoiled rotten by the unquestioned openness and support in her other stories. But truly did enjoy this book and Somerville’s enviable writing and world-building skills.
This is not a light-hearted read. As with many of Somerville’s main characters, things go from bad to worse for Jodi, and things gets very dark before there’s any sign of light. Among the usual Somerville-staples of rape and abuse, and the twisted complexities of survival and healing, is a discussion of consent and choice. Particularly, on the very meaning and value of “choice” when all of your choices are just as morbid and evil as each other. And indeed, what choices are given to victims of abuse once they are “rescued”? What autonomy do they have, what freedom do they have to shape their own narrative, their own futures?
Yes, it’s a dark story; yet none of the violence or manipulation that Jodi suffers- whether physical, emotional, or physiological- is treated lightly. After reading only a few of Somerville’s works I had complete faith in the reverence she holds for her characters and their journeys. Her respect, admiration, and empathy for survivors is clear in all of her works.
As a final note, this is also a very clever book. Somerville has gone against her usual habit here and restricted the POV to a single character- and what’s more, Jodi is a very compromised narrator. His whole life- his personality, his attitudes and beliefs, even his physical memories and emotions- are being manipulated by those around him. It’s a difficult way to tell a story; difficult to convey to the reader what is real and what is not, and to describe events as Jodi experiences them and still give the reader the information they need to understand the story- indeed, to understand more than Jodi himself does. I look forward to reading this book again to study how Somerville pulls it off. This is clever storytelling, and something I very much aspire to myself.
(reviewed 7 months after purchase)
on Dec. 14, 2011 :
I love the way Ann Somerville tells her stories and I also really enjoyed reading this. But I'm retracting a star because of the jump in time near the end. I was so into the story and wanted to know what happened next faster than I could read, so I got really disappointed when that sudden "jump" came. I feel like Somerville cut corners by doing that and it almost dropped the story on the floor for me. I would really have loved to have read the changes "upclose" instead of getting it told as a short chronicle. But but but that is my only complaint - I loved this and I recommend reading it.
(reviewed 52 days after purchase)
on Sep. 2, 2011 :
It says a lot about this novel that I consider this one Anne Sumerville's best at least until the end. I'm not saying that the end is bad at all, but it is too fast. I won't go into details to avoid spoilers but I felt that the large space of that she skipped was a mistake. We needed to see the character development that happened during that time and see the societal changes take place, not just be told that they did. But the novel up until that point is so good that I still have to give it four stars and I was really tempted to give it 5. I would say 90% of this is one of the best novels she's written.
(reviewed 42 days after purchase)
C S McClellan
on Aug. 3, 2011 :
Hidden Faults is written with the same skill and attention to detail of Somerville's previous novels. I wondered whether it's an alternative view of the earlier Pindone novels, or just takes place a long time after those stories, when society's attitude toward paranormal abilities has evolved into open hostility. The change is quite extreme and disturbing, but it's not something that would bother new readers.
What kept me from giving this novel five stars was the prison plotline. I wish the author could have found some way to avoid the stale "fresh meat"/"you belong to me or else" cliches. Still, the protagonist's prison experience had some interesting twists and turns that were well done.
Considering that I don't care much for paranormal stories, and have even more trouble with that genre when people use the power of their mind to enable them to fly, it's an exceptional writer who can keep me reading her books.
(reviewed 29 days after purchase)
on July 12, 2011 :
If you're not squeamish about guy-on-guy romance and some slightly risque (not erotica style, but probably more like R than PG-13) "bedroom scenes," this is a great way to spend a day! The start is heart breaking -- seeing how bad poor Jodi had it forced my hand into buying the rest. Probably would have anyway, and I'm very glad I did.
This book deserves five stars for many reasons, but I'd give them just for the fact that the character, Kir, was just so enthralling and adorable. Finally, someone really nailed the masculine gay guy combined with the whole "broken savior" thing. Ann is the first author I've read who has dynamic, interesting, powerful gay characters instead of relegating them to stereotypes (the hair dresser, the florist, the besty of the female lead, etc.) or something equally fake and/or unsatisfying. I wanted to take Kir home with me and make him soup :) For some reason, even though I felt certain he should have a rustic Aussie accent, in my little pea brain, Kir had an American Deep South accent . . . go figure.
The narrative flowed quickly and fluidly, and the dialog seemed natural. I was also terribly impressed with the quality of the editing -- better than many paper books I've read in the past. If this was self-edited, I think I might be inclined to send a copy of my dissertation on a test run past Ms. Somerville when it's completed ;) If not, kudos to the editor.
Add to that the interesting questions that arise when even ones own thoughts are no longer sacred or certain and top it off with almost Guy Fawkes style uprising, and this story really just satisfies. I found myself utterly unable to put it down (until my eyes betrayed me and I sacked out with the laptop as a pillow).
A few things detracted from the sheer joy of this overall excellent book. First, the telepathic communication could really have benefited from some sort of offset or typographical treatment -- though that could be an artifact of my reader for all I know. I found myself relying on context to know whether I was reading mental dialog or narrative. It was easy enough to figure out in nearly all cases, but on several occasions, it broke the continuity just a bit. I also longed for a bit more closure at the end before the last chapter. It was good, but if there were an apocryphal offering of 3 or 4 chapters about that period, I would be more than tempted to drop a few bucks on it.
The last little detractor is somewhat of a pet-peeve of mine that's rather prevalent in SF/F writing, and most normal readers probably won't mind it at all. Units of measure. Yea, it's great to do some world building, but I've got some issues when units of time, space, and mass get substituted. Firstly, I've already suspended my disbelief to allow this strange world to miraculously have co-discovered the English language -- why couldn't I as easily do the same with spontaneous discovery of a meter, ounce, cubic centimeter, second, or any other familiar unit? Baring that, a conversion chart or at least some kind of context(Five myclits, barely enough to fill a child's medicine dropper, or Five myclits, enough to fill a small swimming pool; obviously a bit theatrical an example, but nonetheless. . .) would be nice to help frame my mental image. All in all, I managed on context -- just as I have in so many other SF/F books in the past with vague calendars or units of measure. Since this is part of a larger collection, maybe I just need to read more to properly understand the units. . .
Overall, those were only minor detractors from what was otherwise a really enjoyable romp. If you find yourself with a spare evening and a few bucks, don't have a problem with gay romance and the occasionally dark and grim segment, and aren't reading on a work computer/phone/device (language and sexual content probably makes this a bit NSFW, imo), you should definitely check out Ann Somerville's Hidden Faults. You'll be glad you did. I know I am. Definitely looking forward to reading more from her in the future.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
on July 6, 2011 :
** spoiler alert ** VAGUE NOTHING TOO SPECIFIC
I bought this book yesterday and devoured it today. I really loved it, but this is one of the most grim and upsetting stories that this author wrote so far. Having grown up in quite restrictive society, stories set up in similar society tend to upset me quite a lot, even though the story has an unequivocally happy ending both on large scale and on relationship scale. This novel again has people with paranormal abilities and how the "normal" society interacts with them and in this one paranormals are treated the most unjustly out of all novels by Ann Sommerville that I have read. I loved how main character grew and learned after being dealt so many blows, but this is the theme I always love in this writer's works, how human spirit can triumph no matter what. Her stories also often ask uncomfortable questions and in some ways this one topped the bar for me. How far those who are being victimized by society are willing to go and should be willing to go to take back what should be rightfully theirs and whether you have a right to judge somebody else who is willing to do the dirty work you were not willing to do in order for you to have happier future? And I really enjoyed the love story and not the least because it makes me believe in the trope I usually cannot stand.
(reviewed 2 days after purchase)