REVIEW: Modified and Sacred by Jana Denardo

The descriptive bit: Lieutenant Addison Hunt is recovering from a nasty injury and is happy to have a simple mission escorting a Diplomat through space. He’s a bit of a loner, genetically modified against his will when he was a child, abused and finds it difficult to socialize. On the other hand, Diplomat Deveral is Sacred Kin and empathic. What makes Deveral a talented Diplomat makes him a challenging colleague for Hunt … especially when they realize the mission isn’t as straight-forward as it should be.

My thoughts bit: This novella is futuristic and Denardo manages a fair bit of world building within the limited number of words.

Although genetic modifications seem to be reasonably common, in this story they are often frowned upon. Hunt experiences discrimination because he has modifications – even though it would never have been his own choice. He is ashamed of his modifications and tries to hide them whenever possible. His body has been altered so that he is able to breathe through gills under water and withstand high pressure. It’s an intriguing premise and I found myself wishing that the story had been longer so that a bit more of Hunt’s character could have been revealed. The back story behind his abduction and modification would be an interesting read. I would also have enjoyed reading about the reasons behind such discrimination against people with such useful modifications.

The Sacred Kin are an interesting race. They have color changing skin that reflects their emotions, hair that contains color transforming liquid and eyes that are described as being lizard-like. The fact that they are empathic is considered to make them divine although, Deveral is quick to point out that it’s a genetic trait. Denardo’s plot suggests an interesting dichotomy in the Scared Kin – people believe Deveral to be divine and he is accepting of that role even though he knows it is simply genetic planning. This skims the surface of a deeper debate regarding science versus religion.

The relationship between Deveral and Hunt felt a bit rushed even though there was a lot of attraction between the two of them. This may simply be because of the novella length of the book and some time jumps. It seemed a bit implausible to me that while they were struggling to survive they would take the time to attempt to have sex… I didn’t have a problem with the sexual tension between the two characters but they seemed to act on it at strangely inappropriate times.

Overall, this was a pleasant read, something you might enjoy having on your eReader for a commute or an afternoon drink at your favorite coffee shop.

The warnings bit: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this novella: violence, mentions past sex trafficking, mentions physical abuse, bigotry, descriptions of dead bodies.

I received an ARC of Modified and Sacred by Jana Denardo from NineStar Press via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

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