by Evangeline AndersonWith some novels it's obvious from the very first page what you're going to get, but it's hard to resist following the story anyhow. So it is with Abducted, Evangeline Anderson's wish fulfilment space adventure with hot aliens.
Zoe is a paralegal having a bad day at work when she gets sucked through a bathroom mirror and onto a space station, into the hands or tentacles of extraterrestrials. She's one of the first people to be taken by aliens who are harvesting Earth's humans in a commercial operation that's a sort of intergalactic dating agency. Zoe ends up being whisked away by Sarden, a hot red devil of an alien who keeps calling her a "Pure One" and just happens to be biologically very similar to regular humans. This is explained by the universe being "seeded" by an ancient race, so that not all aliens are very dissimilar from regular humans. Yet Sarden doesn't want Zoe for himself. His aim is to sell her on to a collector for a high price, and he is convinced that she is a human with very rare talents indeed.
Zoe is curvy, snarky, and relatable, and poor at sports and self-defence. Sarden is big, sexy, and equally likeable in spite of his act of abduction. The story is told with a dual point of view through the eyes of these two characters. Normally that device would reduce the suspense, because it gives the game away about how they feel about each other. However, that scarcely matters because there's far more going on in the plot than Zoe and Sarden's relationship. Abducted is a great space adventure with a lot of strange aliens, high technology, frightening villains, various monsters, and a tough moral dilemma for the main characters to decide on.
It's fair to say this novel is steamy and explicit throughout, yet it's also sweet. The romance is straightforward. There are several playful references to geek culture and romance tropes, lightening the mood. This is a story with more in common with portal fantasies than with most science fiction, taking a modern everywoman and putting her in a gleefully unrealistic and wonderful setting. I enjoyed the humanity of Alfred, Sarden's AI butler, and the cute tiny space monkeys that Zoe takes a shine to. It's was a little bit jarring to find out that an culture advanced enough to have FTL technology would have a feudal power structure of anointed kings and queens, rather than something sensible like democracy. This is a fairy tale in space that isn't intended to be a deep social commentary.
Abducted is masses of fun thanks to extremely likeable main characters and an engaging, fast-paced story. This escapist fantasy is a great antidote to real life.
9th November 2016
Review © Ros Jackson
Source: own copy