Genre: Science Fiction; Action/Adventure; Alien; Romance
Troy is no longer himself. Kidnapped by the aliens known as Pirans, infected with the essence of the dead General Tohmas, Troy grasps at his only hope of survival. He merges his soul with the alien parasite trying to possess him, leaving him forever changed—and not entirely for the worse. Once plagued by crippling phobias, Troy is now fearless, willing to fight his enemies with his bare hands.
But with this new strength also comes a new weakness: women. Tohmas was notorious for his insatiable desires, and Troy finds himself constantly resisting temptation—especially the gorgeous, manipulative Alta. Although Alta has convinced the Pirans she’s helping them prepare to battle the murderous Reptaurens, she’s actually meticulously planning to steal their ultimate power source and then abandon them to their fate.Alta won’t hesitate to kill anyone in her way, and her deep love for Tohmas is Troy’s only advantage. He convinces Alta that Tohmas has taken full control of his being and thus keeps her trust and his life. While Alta schemes, Troy covertly struggles to save the Pirans and prevent the Reptaurens from invading Earth—but first he must wrest back control of his own soul.
If you liked the first book, you’ll definitely enjoy this one! ‘Essence: Alta’ gets a bit darker than ‘Essence: Septima’ as it delves more into the past of the characters as well as their current schemes and predicaments. Troy’s mental and physical meld with Tohmas continues to intrigue me.
In this installment, we see even more of his psychological struggle to be himself, to be a good person, while constantly battling with the heavy emotions and character flaws that come from Tohmas. He’s also now plagued with the memories of the Rhoku general which makes judging just how evil the others he perceived to be villains (or heroes) are. Could Alta’s, Cienna’s, and even Septima’s actions be forgivable regardless of how atrocious they are? Blamed on the turmoil he now knows they’ve been through, some by his (Tohmas’) own hands?
Realizing at this point that he must come to terms with being both men (and neither at the same time), Troy seems to make progress in areas only to give in to other influences he views as negative. It’s extremely interesting to see how their greatly opposing mindsets come together to create a being intent on overcoming and being better. I am afraid though that the challenge of his apparent inability to be loyal to or trusting of anyone (including how thanks to Tohmas, he can’t seem to keep it in his pants and has immense trouble deciding who he loves) might just be his undoing.
But there’s much more to the story than this overlying psychological aspect. The threat of the Reptaurans continues, despair over the Pirans’ potential demise worsens, and the characters, both old and new, remain in an overall state of limbo. Alta steps in once again to turn matters on their head while still being seen as an upstanding individual to most citizens/workers. However, with Troy’s new revelations brought about by Tohmas’ memories, he finds it near impossible to really put anyone who has wronged him at fault. This brings a whole new array of problems and uncertainty.
Nonetheless, their merge has created a force to be reckoned with. Despite the extremes he’s being forced through not only by his own mind, but the hands of others, he pulls off some quite impressive maneuvers in attempts to keep his morality in tact and save the lives of those around him. I’m really eager to see more of his evolution and the fate of everyone involved in the next book.
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~Sahreth ‘Baphy’ Bowden
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