Strain - Amelia C. Gormley

Judging from the reviews, I think this is a book that many other readers will like better than I did. But for me, this was a disappointing and frustrating read. The writing was indeed good. I was –very- intrigued and excited to read this, especially once I read the excerpt. It promised to be an exciting and erotic read; I didn't particularly find it to be either. :/

This should be an okay read even for those who aren’t heavily into sci-fi and dystopian genres, since those aspects are thin. For me, I really like these genres, so the fact that I found the world-building very much lacking and ended up with a lot of questions was one of the issues I had.

I almost think I read a different book than some reviewers did, because I did not find the characters to have much depth to them. Sure, in the first chapter, Rhys seemed to be a very sympathetic and brave MC, willing to sacrifice his life to save his family. That’s pretty much all the action you will get from him. After that, he became insipid and whiny for the rest of the book, wrapped up in constant angst over having to have sex in order to live, followed by even more angst over discovering he enjoyed the sex. At times I found him ungrateful and just rash. And even though he was partly rescued in order to become a potential new soldier recruit, he never seemed to contribute or train much. I couldn't see anything special about him. But of course, the soldiers all slowly start to become protective over him and his small, skinny stature. He was almost Mary-Sueish.

I found Darius to be even more one-dimensional. We don’t even get any info on his background until 70% into the story, and even then, it’s just a few sentences. He was just there to play the big Dommy leader (except, he never even came off as a competent leader; Xolani seemed to be making most of the decisions) becoming possessive over the skinny new boy. And for the sex scenes: If I could count the number of times ‘boy’ was used in this book!! All the ‘dirty talk’ did not work for me. It’s a matter of personal taste. The first scene at the Church was hot but then they just became numerous and repetitive, so much so that I had to skim through them in order to finish. If you like the dynamic of an older Dom bossing around a much younger lover and calling him ‘boy’ in and out of bed, you will love this. For me, I ended up struggling, bored and not emotionally invested to care enough whether these characters lived or died in this harsh new world.

The main antagonist, Jacob, was just too plain annoying to come off as a real villain, but his actions at the end did give me the shivers.

In the end, 2 stars because it was an OK read, and I give kudos to the very interesting premise, even if it didn't live up to it. I enjoy the author's series with Heidi Belleau, so I'll still check out her books.

copy kindly received from publisher on netgalley in exchange for honest review