Book Review: H.A.L.F.: Origins by Natalie Wright

Origins
H.A.L.F. Book 3
Natalie Wright
Boadicea Press, August 2017
ISBN 978-15453-7109-1
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Tex and Erika are again fugitives, on the run for their lives. But when Tex falls gravely ill, a Navajo healer is Tex’s only hope for survival. He emerges from the ordeal changed in body and mind and with vital information: how to stop the predatory M’Uktah from destroying those he has come to love.

Erika Holt seeks a respite from the constant threats to her life but she’s not about to give up. As she and Tex launch a mission to shut down the galactic highway used by invaders, she grows closer to her troubled half-alien companion. But what about her on-again, off-again boyfriend, Jack?

Jack Wilson, with his new friend Anna Sturgis, is determined to put an end to the Makers’ schemes for world domination. Complicating matters, the valuable medicine to counter the alien virus has been stolen.

As both alien and human forces line up against them, the destiny of all humankind is hand the hands of these young warriors. And time is running out.

Natalie Wright captured my attention two years ago with the first book in this trilogy, The Deep Beneath. Her plot was creative and compelling but what really appealed to me was her character, H.A.L.F. 9, who is a hybrid alien/human intended for unpleasant behaviors but who has an unplanned vulnerability. After an encounter in the Arizona desert with three humans, 9 began to connect in unexpected ways with Erika, Jack and Ian and the humans develop a desire to protect 9. While I really enjoyed the straight-forward science fiction storyline, it was these four characters that meant the most to me.

A lot happened in that first book, leading to capture and imprisonment and a voyage into an unknown future. In Makers, the second book, Erika and Ian were forced onto a spaceship while Jack and Tex, the name chosen for 9, were left behind on earth to face their own dangers. This book made the plot electrifying while the characters became even more real and appealing. Ms. Wright‘s concept solidified into a truly adventurous story that let the reader take part, if you will, in the emotions and action that have marked it as science fiction that’s accessible to all.

Now, the danger of world domination by the aliens, as well as the missing medicine for the virus, propel the friends into looking for ways to fight back against the aliens and a contingent of humans who are no less threatening. Along with an intriguing plot, the characters, including secondary players, are intensely interesting and often unpredictable and the romantic elements that have been developing from the beginning are even more absorbing. This is a love triangle that has real depth to it, unlike what we often see.

Origins ends satisfactorily although with a good deal of sadness and the one major unanswered question is part and parcel of this kind of story. The author seems to have ended this tale but I hope that, perhaps someday, she’ll offer more since I know I’m going to miss Erika and her friends and colleagues.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, October 2017.

Book Review: H.A.L.F.: The Makers by Natalie Wright

HALF The MakersThe Makers
H.A.L.F. Book 2
Natalie Wright
Boadicea Press, May 2016
ISBN 978-1523820924
Trade Paperback

From the author—

Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is Erika on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped? 

The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and have promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with The Conexus? 

Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner, but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay? 

Caught up in their personal battles, will any of them realize the threat that looms over us all before it’s too late? 

I read the first book in this series, The Deep Beneath, back in September 2015 and have been eagerly awaiting the next chapter ever since. I’m very happy to say the wait has been well worth it as The Makers is every  bit as entertaining.

The first thing that got my attention was the pronunciation and definition guide, a tremendous help when you’re reading a book involving unfamiliar terms and language. Will I remember any of it? No, of course not, or at least not much, but it certainly enhanced my enjoyment of the story not to have to try to remember all these details and foreign words. Actually, I probably will retain a few things, like “manthruin” which is a spice similar to our own cinnamon; I love cinnamon so I’m intrigued by this alien spice. I’ll also remember “mach” because it’s always useful to know how to ask for a toilet 😉

Sometimes, we discover that the things we know are not much like reality and Erika has certainly had to cope with a lot of reality since first encountering aliens but being in servitude to the aliens is definitely not what she and Ian want for their future. Unfortunately, their options are limited since they’re on an alien spaceship heading to….somewhere. Meanwhile, back at the ranch (so to speak), Jack was left behind on Earth and needs help from Dr. Sturgiss, not his favorite scientist, if he wants to remain alive and free. Meanwhile, Tex, a created hybrid alien/human, has to stay out of the hands of the aliens if he wants to retain his human side, his emotions.

Ms. Wright has worldbuilding down pat, creating an alien society and diverse people trying to fight off their control in a story that’s very plot-driven and completely engaging. At the same time, a plethora of characters that could be kind of overwhelming are anything but as the author has managed to make even peripheral players come to life. The aliens are referred to as “greys” and that can also be seen as a descriptor for the lack of a black and white clarity; all humans are not good and all aliens are not evil.

I’ve become quite fond of Erika and Jack and Tex and all the others and the H.A.L.F. series is an example of how adventurous and fun science fiction can be. The third and final book will be out in 2017 and I’m really looking forward to it.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, November 2016.

Book Review: H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath by Natalie Wright

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Title: H.A.L.F.: The Deep Beneath
Series: H.A.L.F. #1
Author: Natalie Wright
Publisher: Boadicea Press
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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HALF The Deep BeneathThe Deep Beneath
H.A.L.F. Book 1
Natalie Wright
Boadicea Press, January 2015
ISBN 978-1505524727
Trade Paperback

From the author—

H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.

One of my favorite books is Watchers by Dean Koontz in which an experiment produces two creatures, one a triumph of goodness and the other a creature that is violent and terrifying. Underlying that monstrous demeanour, though, is a sadness and a yearning for something better and it’s that dichotomy that The Deep Beneath reminds me of. While the hybrid created by an experiment is intended for, and capable of, terrible things, H.A.L.F. 9 has a softer side and, because of that, is quite vulnerable.

When Erika, Ian and Jack set out to help 9 after a deadly encounter in the desert, they forge a bond none could have foreseen and this is the heart of the story. There’s a certain lack of trust between 9 and the other three but they work through it for the most part and become a real team. Each one is memorable to me, especially 9 and Erika, and I really like all four of them and admire the humans’ drive to find safety for this being who comes to mean so much to them.

As for the plot, this is a good old-fashioned Area 51 type of story and is pretty straightforward, nasty government conspirators and all. It’s just the type of alien encounter science fiction that appeals to me and The Deep Beneath was really quite satisfying while the author added elements that made this more than “just another Roswell” tale. I especially appreciated her use of varying levels of humidity, something I haven’t seen before.

The Deep Beneath ends on a cliffhanger but I was already thinking how glad I was that this is the first book in a series because I want more of this story, much more. I really hope Ms. Wright will have the next installment ready for us soon.

Reviewed by Lelia Taylor, September 2015.

About the Author

Natalie WrightNatalie is the author of H.A.L.F., a young adult science fiction series, and The Akasha Chronicles, a young adult fantasy trilogy. She lives in the high desert of Tucson, Arizona with her husband, tween daughter, and two young cats.

Natalie spends her time writing, reading, gaming, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, hanging out on social media, and meeting readers and fans at festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. She likes to walk in the desert, snorkel in warm waters, travel, and share excellent food and conversation with awesome people. She was raised an Ohio farm girl, lives in the desert Southwest, and dreams of living in a big city high rise.

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