Review: Dark Stranger: The Dream

If you put an ad for a book on my Kindle lockscreen, I will download it like a trained seal. This must be the case, because this isn’t the sort of thing I usually check out.

I tend to keep paranormal romance at arm’s length– and I say this as someone whose books have strong PNR elements. The problem, at least sometimes, is that the books end up being too much romance and I’m bored. Sex scenes always seem to come out mostly the same way and they don’t do anything for me. I don’t think the books are low quality, or that anyone should feel bad for liking them; that would be unbelievably hypocritical of someone like me. I’m just explaining why I tend to pick other genres for my bedtime reading.

But, well, Dark Stranger has supposedly been downloaded 2.5 million times. It’s kind of a phenomenon, and I have a responsibility to myself to check that sort of thing out, don’t I? It’s market research.

The most important thing to know about this book is that it conforms to the “spirited young woman falls in love with a bored immortal (and it’s mutual)” trope and/or set of tropes. Young Syssi (I don’t get the name) falls for immortal billionaire Kian, and he’s smitten in return. If you have ever read Twilight, or one of the eight million books that copied Twilight, or any of the old-fashioned bodice rippers that preceded Twilght, you know how this story goes. Again, there’s nothing wrong with that; I’m just explaining what the experience is like.

What sets this series apart is that it’s unashamedly political; Kian’s organization works behind the scenes to control human business and governments, and their opposition, acronym DOOM (yes really) works in the shadows to bring darkness to humanity. Lucas takes the opportunity to make some political comments, and it’s…interesting. She also makes some truly ignorant comments about anime, so be aware of that if you’re an otaku at all.

The book seems to end in the middle of the story, which surprised me. I was really expecting Syssi to be kidnapped and then Kian would swoop in to save her, but this book does get some originality points for not doing that. I still feel like the book doesn’t have a proper ending, however.

What I did not know while I was reading this is that Dark Stranger is the first book in a 65-book series(!), so each book is more like a tv episode than anything else. It made sense retroactively, because there’s a lot of world-building in this book that would have been unusual in a short PNR series. Instead we have one of those writers in I.T. Lucas who is like Amanda M. Lee: their work isn’t just a world, it’s a universe.

I don’t think I’ll continue with this series, since I have a lot of books to read that are more in my wheelhouse than this. However, if you like the trope of the powerful vampire falling for a slightly awkward young girl, this is one of the most fully realized versions of that story, if not the most.

Oh yeah, just as an aside: Syssi is supposed to be “petite” and is frequently called short, but it is later revealed that she is 5’5. 5’5 is not short for a woman! I’m 5’3 and I’m not that short, am I? AM I?

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