Henry Holt and Company, June 2013
From the publisher—
London, 2218 A.D. Seventeen-year-old Zee is an intern empath. She’s focused on her job, poised for a great career—until one day an attractive patient undoes her hard-earned calm. As an empath, she cannot afford such distractions, but neither can she stay away from David, even when she discovers he’s one of a mysterious alien race. As London comes under attack by anarchist bombings, and as Zee struggles to get a handle on her unusually strong psychic abilities, David starts pulling away. Although Zee’s sure he’s attracted to her, David has secrets he cannot share. But it’s too late for Zee. She’s losing her heart to the gray-eyed alien boy, and she’s determined to follow him—no matter how far it may take her.
Authors work hard to find ways to make their novels a bit different from others of the same genre/subgenre so I give Susan Waggoner credit for coming up with the empath idea. Unfortunately, I think she may have tried a little too hard because I felt as though there were just too many elements and it began to seem like one of those times when you “throw it against the wall to see if it will stick”.
I kind of liked both Zee and David but this particular book suffers from the insta-love syndrome I have come to heartily dislike and, although I don’t have a real reason to doubt David’s sincerity, his objection to his own planet’s marriage requirements reminded me of the old plot device of falling for a girl just because she is forbidden. I also wonder how he could have lived on earth for several years without learning that there are Earthlings with red hair—that was a pretty dumb shortcoming in his powers of observation. When all is said and done, two secondary characters, Rani and Mrs. Hart, were my favorites and they were the source of the only true emotions I felt about these people.
I also felt that the romance took over the story to its detriment. Because of the somewhat overbearing love story, the rest of the plot fell pretty flat and the whole theme about the bombings didn’t ever take on the importance you might expect. I also thought that a girl like Zee who is seen by others as mature and in control turned into a rather childish teen who was blinded by love even though she knows emotional attachment will interfere with her dream profession. Likely to happen? Maybe, but that doesn’t make for a very strong story, does it? Also, one more plot element that could have been of real interest and could have formed the basis for a more engaging tale was thrown out there without any real development. No spoiler here but I’m talking about the reason these aliens are spending time on earth. Perhaps we’ll learn much more about that in the next book.
In the end, I did find Neptune’s Tears to be a pleasant read but it just didn’t quite grab me although it hints of possibilities. I think Ms. Waggoner has some good ideas here and I’ll read the next book, Starlight’s Edge, to see where she takes Zee and David next.
Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, June 2013.