Sci-Fi Insta Romance in ‘The Ophelia Prophecy’

17910150 The Ophelia Prophecy by Sharon Lynn Fisher
Tor Books, April 1, 2014 (Sci-Fi Romance)*

My rating: Liked the place, but the food was bad (2/5)

The Ophelia Prophecy is a sci-fi romance that I was really looking forward to. The premise sounded amazing:

Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters — the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.

Some of us intend to do more than survive.

Asha and Pax — strangers and enemies — find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.

Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource — information — viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.

Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.

Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.

With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.

We’ve got a heroine that has a missing memory, a bioengineered hero – how could it not be a great read. Unfortunately, this one missed the mark for me.

The Good.

What worked for me in The Ophelia Prophecy was the set up and the world – it was just so cool. We have the Manti race, which humans engineered. Then the creations took over. I loved the descriptions of this humanoid race and I enjoyed the subsequent race relations that emerged out of this scenario. This was interested and intriguing and a lot of food for thought. The fact that the Manti are essentially herding the humans and allowing them the illusion of freedom reminded me of many utopian novels I loved that this can be seen as social commentary. While this utopia setting was not central to the novel, the fact that Asha comes from a utopic village added another dimension to a complex world.

So, in the end what I liked about this one was the more hard-core sci-fi elements. This expansion of real world problems (like bioengineering), that forces you to think about it in the context of the book and in real life is what sci-fi is all about and I think in this respect, the author nailed it. However, there was one element that I didn’t like…

The Bad.

I like romance, folks, and it likely fills the bulk of my reading material. So the romantic element to The Ophelia Prophecy is what initially got me intrigued. The sci-fi elements were, to my mind, icing on the cake. Unfortunately, the romance did not work for me.

Asha and Pax have a forbidden romance; they’re on different sides of an ongoing battle. This is a great trope in romance and generally I really like it as you get to see the characters start to come to understand their enemy’s point of view. I may have missed something here, but I just didn’t feel that Asha and Pax really understood the other’s side. I’m not convinced that Asha and Pax will have a happily ever after.

But what really bothered me was that their relationship was based on an instant physical attraction. This is fine, but I never felt that the relationship progressed past just the physical. For the bulk of the book Asha and Pax were at odds with one another or on the run and heading into danger. There just wasn’t time for a relationship to be built. Again, this is fine and it’s even finer if the book is the start of the series, but what really bugged me was that physical relationship ended with a declaration of love. Personally, I didn’t see the basis for either of the characters be “in love” with the other and this completely brought my enjoyment of this book down. It was a case of insta-lust disguised as insta-love.

Ultimately, I can’t say that I recommend The Ophelia Prophecy for die-hard romance fans like me. There was a lot of promise here with the world-building, in the end, the characters were flat for me.

*Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

Similar Reads

Wen Spencer’s Endless Blue is, in many ways, very similar to The Ophelia Prophecy. There’s complex world building going on, but there is a big focus on race relations and the creation of super soldiers through gene manipulation. Turk is one of these super soldiers, and like Pax, he’s got some issue with it, although I do feel Turk was a little more tortured by it. There’s also a romance in Endless Blue, but it does not overshadow the main plot, so it would be a good read for those who are not as obsessed with the romance genre like me.

Endless Blue

If you liked the enemies to lovers theme in The Ophelia Prophecy, Marcella Burnard’s Enemy Games would be a good choice. Jayleia and Damen are on the opposite sides of an intergalactic war and they certainly don’t need the added complication of a relationship, but alas that’s exactly what they get. There’s definitely a more significant emphasis on the romance here.  It also came to mind because there’s some sort of genetic modification going on with Damen.

Enemy Games (Enemy, #2)

My final recommendation is Eve Kenin’s Driven, which was a complete surprise read for me. Like Pax and Asha, Raina and Wizard (seriously awesome name) are thrown together by circumstances and they find themselves involved in a much larger conspiracy. Again, this one has more of a focus on romance, but it’s fast paced and has a cool futuristic setting.

Driven (Northern Waste, #1)

 

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