Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Induction (Among Us), by Ploni Almoni

First I must point out that this book is rated R (or even perhaps NC-17). Don't get me wrong -- it is not "erotic fiction" (or whatever other euphemism you prefer for porn), but it does include a substantial number of sexual encounters. Were it a movie, it would be only a bit more risque than many current R -rated movies and I certainly could imagine it as a (strongly) R -rated film. But, importantly, if this sort of content bothers you, you won't want to read this book. Period. No exceptions.

With that out of the way, let's jump to what makes this book work really well. It is the story of RW, a college history professor and computer geek - the sort of person you could easily picture in your mind. Even his hobbies are geeky. One of the strengths of Almoni's writing is the character development. RW is a normal guy -- well as normal as you'll get in a novel like this.

I like this idea of Almoni sticking to a credible line -- well, given that this book involves aliens among us, with rather unusual powers and needs, credible might not be precisely the right word. What I mean is that when RW acts, he acts in a way that is believable.

It is difficult to describe the plot for fear of spoilers. Let's put it this way: RW is doing his usual stuff, hanging with his girl friend (Misty), playing around with his internet hacking hobby, when suddenly his world is turned upside down. He has to work through the resulting issues, evade some bad guys and ultimately figure out how to accept things about which he'd been happily unaware. The reader goes along on this journey with RW, alternately freaked out, exhausted, and overwhelmed, yet still moving forward.

There are a number of internet and computer machinations which play a key role in this book, but Almoni clearly has a tech background because everything he describes is reasonably believable; the reader doesn't have to buy into anything wacky, and if you're a computer professional you won't be annoyed. Similarly, the descriptions of Texas locations and surrounding areas are full of little details that support and help draw the reader into the story.

Although I'm conservative enough to prefer less and fewer of the sex scenes, they actually are integral to the plot and it would be difficult to eliminate them completely; this is a matter of personal preference that almost cost the review one star. But it is such an enjoyable book that I decided to evaluate it without over- weighting this particular prejudice of mine.

There's something for everyone in this novel. If you're about science fiction, fantasy, or whatever term is appropriate for the "aliens among us theme," then you'll delight in the language of the "Thok'h Thirrah," their sea -based headquarters, and their politics. If, on the other hand, you're looking for something suspenseful that keeps you turning pages even when your lunch break is over, Almoni delivers that as well.

In fact, it is the combination of my personal interest in the main character and the suspense of the situation he's in that is the basis for the title of this review: you just know that there has to be more, that we'll find out what happened to Misty and how RW evolves through his situation.

I expect that most readers, when they get to the last page, will similarly yearn for the next book in what promises to be a terrific series.

[Full disclosure:  I know the author and have previously provided comments on earlier drafts of this novel.  This has not affected the objectivity of my review.]

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