Title: Shards of Hope
Author: Nalini Singh
Series: Psy-Changeling #14
The Verdict: ★★★★★
For: Lovers of paranormal romance, unbelievably good plot lines, amazing characters, everything Silent
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Urban fantasy, Shapeshifters
Publication details: June 4th, 2015 by Gollancz
Format: Kindle edition,
***This review will contain spoilers!! Most of the review will be a spoiler purely because I’m so excited. You’ve been warned! Please highlight the white paragraphs to view spoilers***
Book Synopsis: Awakening wounded in a darkened cell, their psychic abilities blocked, Aden and Zaira know they must escape. But when the lethal soldiers break free from their mysterious prison, they find themselves in a harsh, inhospitable landscape far from civilization. Their only hope for survival is to make it to the hidden home of a predatory changeling pack that doesn’t welcome outsiders.
And they must survive. A shadowy enemy has put a target on the back of the Arrow squad, an enemy that cannot be permitted to succeed in its deadly campaign. Aden will cross any line to keep his people safe for this new future, where even an assassin might have hope of a life beyond blood and death and pain. Zaira has no such hope. She knows she’s too damaged to return from the abyss. Her driving goal is to protect Aden, protect the only person who has ever come back for her no matter what.
This time, even Aden’s passionate determination may not be enough – because the emotionless chill of Silence existed for a reason. For the violent, and the insane, and the irreparably broken . . . like Zaira.
My review: For my 100th book of the year, I read Shards of Hope, the best – without a doubt – book of the year. Granted we’re only 6 months into the year but still.
A quick bit of background of the story so far for those of you who haven’t read the books (you must!). Decades ago, the Psy race – an extremely gifted psychic race were suffering from madness and murder – decided to implement the Silence Protocol in an attempt to stop the madness from spreading further. The Silence Protocol was a conditioning of Psy children – they conditioned children not to feel emotion, after all, if they couldn’t feel, they couldn’t go mad.
A couple who lost their children to madness conditioned their only surviving child to feel no emotion who eventually went on to form the Arrow Squad – the bogeymen of the Psy-Net (which is a vast star-filled psychic net that connects every Psy mind) – The Arrow Squad were the most dangerous of the Psy in the Net, born with abilities so dangerous they were written out of their family history and drafted into the Squad as young children where they were tortured to become stronger.
Fast forward a few hundred years and Silence has fallen – this began with the defection of a Cardinal E-Psy Sascha Duncan – Changelings are mating with Psy, Psy are bonding with other Psy, Psy are bonding with Humans; E Psy are keeping the Net healthy now that Silence has fallen – the madness of the Psy was due to this crushing of emotion.
The Arrow Squad have ceased being in the shadows and are now prominent figures of the Psy community, protecting the Psy from the front which is where Shards of Hope comes back into play. The previous novel Shield of Winter was about Vasic – cardinal Tk Psy, sub-designation V and the only true Teleporter in the Psy-Net – and Ivy Jane his E-Psy, this book brought the Arrows into the light and E’s became critical in maintaining the health of the Psy-Net.
Tp – Telepath
Tk – Telekinetic
M – Medical
E – Empath
Shards of Hope is about Aden Kai – leader of the Arrow Squad, gradient 4.3 Tp Psy with minor M-Psy abilities – and Zaira Neve – gradient 9.8 combat-grade Tp Psy. The book is about the growing danger for the Psy, Changelings and the humans in the wake of the fall of Silence, about the growing bond between Aden and Zaira and it’s a beautiful bond. When you consider that the Psy have had no emotion for decades, all of a sudden the most lethal of them are falling in love, and it gives hope to the others.
It is incredibly hard for me to review this book without giving too much away, but I’m sure going to try.
The opening line to Shards of Hope is lovely; it shows – to me – that things are changing: “Spring is in full flower in the year 2082.”
It then moves on to say “Telepaths or telekinetics, strong or weak, the Psy are now free to feel, free to love and hate, free to laugh and cry. Emotion is an intoxication to many, but to others, it is a deadly threat.”
There’s always a little niggling sense of hatred in the Psy-Changeling series even as Nalini proves that it is being overcome in small, subtle ways. I’ve fallen for each character in every book with their own little quirks but since meeting Aden early on in the series I wanted him to have happiness and Nalini couldn’t have picked a better moment to show that Aden isn’t a mid-level telepath with weak medical skills but an unbelievable bad-ass who hasn’t been Silent for a very long time.
A couple of quotes from the book to give you a feel of Aden and Zaira’s characters:
“Being isolated and alone and hurt day after day changes a person, Aden. It turns a child into… into a thing that isn’t quite human and not quite animal. Like any trapped creature, that child will gnaw off its own limb to escape – but if that child is a Gradient 9.8 combrat-grade telepath named Zaira Neve, it’ll first ask if it can gnaw off its attacker’s limbs instead.” Said by Zaira, kindle location 1677-1680
“He’d made her remember that she was her own person first, and his, second. No one else had a claim on her.” Zaira on Aden, kindle location 1618-1619
“You, Zaira, are priceless as an individual. Don’t ever permit them to erase you.” Said by Aden, kindle location 1747-1748
“’My job is to make sure no one is left behind.’” Aden would never abandon any of his men or women in the dark.” Aden, location 1897-1898
“Stubborn, irrational, obdurate Arrow.” Zaira on Aden, location 1965-1965
The characters are amazingly written, in this book and all the books previous and all the books to come. Shards of Hope is written in such a way that it didn’t take me long to complete it all; I love Nalini Singh’s writing style and I feel close to her characters, can relate to them in subtle ways – not the psychic powers though that’d be pretty awesome if I could.
The drama that is in this book is so sneaky that it’s not what you expect to be and where you expect it to come from at all. I expected something to happen in this book no doubt about it but it wasn’t that.
Shards of Hope had me yelling “OH SNAP!!” and “OH SHIT!!” too many times for me to count. The following quote which is the best out of the entire book had me screaming “Oh sweet heavenly Jesus. I have waited 6 fucking books for that! *scream*”
“’I never wanted you in a box.” He ran his thumb over her cheekbone. “I told you the squad needed your fire and it does, but I need it most of all.”
“If I take you,” she said, and it was a warning, “I’ll keep you. Always.” No one had ever been so possessive of him. Just him. Just Aden. “Take me.”
Such an amazing book. The whole book was just brilliantly written, everything flowed perfectly and I couldn’t fault it other than it was too damn short.
One last parting quote: “Choose.”