Deprivers by Steven-Elliot Altman

Imagine you had a genetic disease that every time you touched someone
with your bare skin you would cause some sort of harmful effect.  Some
make people go blind.  Others deaf.  Some lose sense of direction.
Others are paralyzed.  And the duration is different for each person.
You might go blind for 15 minutes if one of these people touches you.  Or
it might be the rest of your life.  That there are people out there
like this is the premise of Deprivers.  It seems like a neat concept.  Unfortunately, it isn’t well executed.

Take
the first couple of chapters.  You get the set-up of the main
character, an assassin.  Okay.  Somehow a sixteen year old girl, and
granted she is a tough one, manages to force a gun into the mouth of
this assassin guy.  How?  Not sure.  All it says is that she forced the
gun into his mouth.  And since they are both deprivers, she did this
without touching him.  Hmm…  That’s okay.  Later a smaller guy lifts
a bigger guy by the throat and the big guy just does nothing, not even
reaching for his gun until the smaller guy can conveniently do
something about it.

But then there is the stilted dialogue.  "I
have nothing to gain from doing any of you harm."  Some characters talk
like they are ten years old and writing the mandatory letter to grandma
and others spout slang that makes no sense, "I think we should triple
dip him and leave him in front of the police station."  Umm… okay.
Whatever that means.

Not to mention the book is actually two
separate stories.  The first follows the assassin and the girl to
rescue her brother.  Instead they hang out talking about rescuing her
brother who rescues himself along with falling in love with his captors
daughter (of course, you saw that one coming, didn’t you?) and they
wind up at a conference for deprivers and then telling the world about
the great secret–deprivers exist–before some politicians can do it
and spin all the facts their way.  Then that story stops and you start
following this drunken normal guy who is out to find out who killed his
depriver wife.  What?!  Half way through the book, when you are finally
caring about these stilted characters and their mission, you have to
start all over again with a new set of characters and their problems?
Bah.

I tried.  I gave it 200 pages in a 359 page book.  That is
giving something a fair shot.  And now I’m going to go find something
else.

By the way, I’m going to be away from my computer for the
next two weeks.  So hopefully Maureen will keep you in the SF loop
while I’m away.  I’ll be back at the end of July.