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Qui Est In Literis - MR Graham's Ramblings

MR Graham loves books. She loves the feel, the smell, and the stories inside. After careful consideration, however, she has decided the taste leaves something to be desired.

The Kentauride

The Kentauride - Martin Landry,  Guylaine R├ęgimbald,  Ileana Hunter,  Caitlin Lagumen,  Guylaine Ringembald The Premise:

Tanita wakes up, as the description indicates, in an abandoned factory, with a severe sedative hangover, sporadic memories, voices in her head, and her lower body grafted to a horse's neck. She has been kidnapped and genetically altered for the purpose of, eventually, being an attraction in a theme park, but the project has gone awry, and she has been abandoned to die. Fortunately, she is discovered by a teenager, Mark, and his little brother, David, before she can starve to death. They do all they can to make her comfortable until the unidentified villains return, and they are forced to move her to a friend's horse farm to hide. General romance ensues between Mark and Tanita while the villains continue to search for her. It's not until about the last 20% of the book that the villains catch up to them, and the romance gives way to violence, chases, tragedy, and drama.

I had a bit of a hard time categorizing this book, which made it hard to evaluate. It's not really what I usually read. The centaur angle made me think it was fantasy, and it seems to have been submitted on Amazon as fantasy, but I'd be more inclined to call it science fiction or science fantasy. I had also assumed that the main problem to be overcome would be Tanita's amnesia, but I finally concluded that it was actually a romance novel for men, and I'll review it accordingly.

The Good:

It's a smashing idea. I know that my personal geek circles periodically turn our conversation toward the possibility of science making our fandoms come true. For the Trekkies among us, it's already happening; we've gotten our automatic doors, flip phones, touch screens, rudimentary holograms, learning computers, and the very real potential for commercial space flight. The fantasy geeks have had a tougher time of it, and I was very interested in Landry's exploration of the problems that could cause. Technology is powerful, and thus dangerous, when coupled with businessmen of slippery morals.

I was especially drawn to the characters of Sam and Chloe, respectively the owner of the horse ranch on which Tanita is hidden, and Mark's older sister. Sam is a kind, sensible old man, and the only character who ever evinces confidence that Tanita is capable of taking care of herself. Chloe is probably the strongest character in the book, in terms of depth of personality, and gets to provide all the exposition for Landry's evidently very well-researched science.

The Bad:

I got the impression that The Kentauride was written for an exclusively male audience. A distracting amount of attention is paid to the fact that the theme park people altered Tanita to fit their personal standards of beauty, which includes DD breasts. In fact, a roughly equal amount of attention is paid to the breasts and to the sudden acquisition of a horse body, which struck me as unlikely, since one is at least natural, if not the norm, and the other is bizarre. Obviously, I cannot speak for the internal monologue of other women, but I rarely think about my own breasts unless they are in pain, and am irritated rather than flattered when other people stare at them.
Tanita's character is rather blank, which is understandable if she's essentially had her mind wiped and is, practically, only about a week old. Landry mentioned in his afterword that he had originally intended her to be a background character, and that Mark and Chloe were intended to be in the forefront. I think that would have made for an easier read, since Tanita's only real identity is in her relationship toward Mark.

I also had to take issue with some of the character's motivations, especially the repeated (three or four times, as I recall) statement that "whatever he told her to do, she would listen," in reference to Mark. At one point, she refuses to accept a weapon with which to defend herself, because Mark disapproves.
Additionally, the main descriptors used from Mark's point of view to indicate that Tanita is attractive are "childlike" and "too cute to take seriously."

The villains, who are mostly African American, speak in an extremely exaggerated Ebonics-esque dialect that was uncomfortable to read on several levels.

In Conclusion:

I found the plot rather interesting, and was eager to continue reading all the way through. To judge by other Amazon reviews, the book has a good reception among male readers, but I have yet to see female feedback. I would recommend this book on its merits: sound concept, good research, no loose plot ends that I saw, decent pacing. I would also caution the reader about the gender and racial stereotypes, instant romance, and some slightly distracting quick-shifts between the multiple viewpoints in the story.
I would also mention that there is some extremely explicit sex that I wasn't expecting, but that could be a positive or negative, depending on the reader.