My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Rarely Pure and Never Simple is my first Angel Martinez book. I listened to her read from it at GRL and I thought it sounded interesting. I am very glad I finally picked it up!
In a futuristic world where gene therapy has had unexpected side effects, variants have been born. Some with minor talents, some with talents that are powerful. Some have super strength, others healing abilities and others that could be destructive such as Sparkers – like Blaze Emerson. He has fire at his fingertips and a bad attitude to go with it. Many of the variants end up joining the Guild. Their members work to protect humanity. Variants like Blaze, that choose to work independently, are not well thought of by the Guild members. Other variants, like Damien, have unique talents. Damien’s is for finding people, but his talent and his abuse as a child make it hard for him to be around other people. When he is contacted to track the missing children, he cannot say no. Guild director, Dr Parma, pairs Damien with Blaze for this job, much to Damien’s dismay but he reluctantly agrees and they set off in search of the children together.
I enjoyed the world building, the history of the creation of variants, the political intrigue and the way the author gradually developed her characters, giving them depth and drawing me in. I loved the way Damien and Blaze get to know one another; the nicknames Blaze gives Damien are funny and at the same time endearing. There is so much more to Blaze than what he lets the world see. Damien is not only carrying ghosts from his past, which can be triggered with deadly results, but his talent uses a lot of his strength and energy when he is tracking this many children at once,making him seem more vulnerable than he is.
While the story builds with the pursuit of the lost children, we have the relationship building between Damien and Blaze. We also have another variant enter the picture, Shudder. Shudder is an activist. He is working for variant rights but with a more disruptive approach. Blaze refers to him as a Robin Hood terrorist and does not approve of his methods. What we learn is that Shudder and Blaze had meant a lot to each other at one time and when Damien asks Shudder to help them in their search, things get a bit complicated.
Damien and Blaze complement each other well and I even grew to like Shudder for all his reckless behavior. The mystery centering on finding the lost children and determining who took them and why was well done. I enjoyed the futuristic setting and even though some of the descriptions were of a bleak broken America, there was optimism, humor and hope. This and the banter between the characters kept it from having a dystopian feel. I am very happy with the ending and I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series.