I very much enjoyed the Planet of Desire series, so I went into this looking for more sexy bananapants fun. I figured that the pandemic setting would either be too much (given the past year) or just right, and it ended up being a mix of both. And this is definitely banana pants, but the sexy missed the mark a bit for me.
Unlike the previous series, this book is set on Earth after a pandemic (the Beerona, a name that made me roll my eyes so hard) has killed half the population. It mutates too quickly to make a vaccine, so quickly in fact that two people could carry different mutations and any contact with another person could lead to death three days later. Almost everyone’s spent the past five years alone, and recently the new fascist government has outlawed even leaving your house, which is enforced by drones. (I totally didn’t get this part and it seemed only to exist to add some external conflict later?) Look, none of this makes any sense. Basically, it sets up a very lonely, touch-starved heroine and then an alien who basically tells her he can vaccinate her… with his come. From his giant silver dick. In as many orifices as possible. But of course, the alien wants something in return…
So up to a certain point, this was all the bananapants ridiculousness I expected. And then…. look, when it warns you about fluid play, it’s not kidding. There’s like buckets of the stuff all over the place, and there’s lots of porn-worthy dialog about “ooh, yes, please fill me up with come!!!” That’s seriously not my thing, but there was a Planet of Desire book with some similar stuff that I still mostly enjoyed the sex scenes, while I found these ones, well, boring. Part of it was that it’s very insta-lust with a side of fated-mates, so there’s not a lot of buildup between Gun, the alien, arriving and the sexy times starting. Ellie can’t seem to make up her mind about Gun, and overreacted to some things (she thinks he’s a robot at one point and it really upsets her) and underreacted to others. Similarly, the tone rockets back and forth between “I’m going to DIE in three days!” anxiety to “Imma fill you with come!” sex, and it was jarring. There’s also a bit of climate change anxiety in there, between Ellie and her friends living in what’s now the desert (due to climate change) and why exactly the aliens are visiting Earth.
“It’s not stupid to hope. Hope is what keeps us alive.”
She refuses to look at me, just stares down at her hands. “No. Letting go of hope is the only reason I’ve kept myself sane.”
I liked Ellie’s friends, especially how “oh honey no” they were with her, you know, boinking a random silver alien for antibodies. I especially liked Charley, who didn’t hesitate to ream Ellie out for missing their daily check-ins, and who also was just incredibly adventurous. I liked the bits with Gun (yes Gun, the alien language is partially unable to be spoken with human throats so they just use the end bits of their names which all end up being words like Gun, Death, Fear…) and the rest of the aliens, but I was ridiculously annoyed that Gun waited as long as he did before telling Ellie why the aliens were on Earth and, most especially, that they were under a time limit. And while there are some queer characters, in the end Ellie and Gun’s HEA is very heteronormative, down to marriage and pregnancy.
Overall, there’s a lot to hand wave, from the whole virus, to the antibodies, to how the humans are supposed to help the aliens. But let’s be honest, even with all that, I would still probably accept vaccination via alien dick if it showed up on my doorstep tomorrow, so I’ll most likely pick up the next book in the series.