Bingo 18: Shelfie
I knew there was going to be some romance going into Deal with the Devil, but I was really hoping the series title “Mercenary Librarians” would be more the focus. Sadly for me, this was definitely more romance than librarian-ness.
Set in a somewhat generic dystopic US potentially within my lifetime (maybe, assuming I get close to the triple digit age) after humanity has been devastated by some massive solar flare activity (I liked how this was put in; not a big focus, but enough detail for it to make sense). The world of the story appears to be governed by generic evil corporations which do human experiments involving clones and super-soldiers, and a good percentage of humanity is just struggling to survive. This all has promise. I like the found family set-up with Nina, Dani, and Maya, and their use of their enhanced abilities to help their neighborhood. The librarian stuff just isn’t really a factor though, and that would have made things much more interesting when super-soldier team Silver Devils invites them on a quest for the missing Library of Congress stash. This is really the only librarian-ish mention until the very end of the epilogue.
The adventures and flashbacks to traumatizing childhoods for both Nina and her friends and Knox and his team are all interesting, but I have never understood the attraction of the trope “instant attraction, resistance because you know it’ll be a problem, giving in anyways” and then feeling surprised, sad, etc when things go wrong. Knox and Nina are both almost instantly attracted to each other which is kind of obvious since they’re the respective team leaders, but I really don’t get the attraction without knowing anything about the other person. Sure they start talking after the hooking up starts, but that’s really all the romance angle is for, an excuse to explain backstory. This would be fine, if the romance didn’t then become more of the focus of the story. The adventure and setting is enough without that. And taking away focus from that is such a loss of opportunity. There are some good if expected twists involving betrayals, kidnappings, people who are supposed to be dead showing up not, and the attempt to outmaneuver the evil corporation responsible for Knox and his people’s super-soldier abilities.
Volume 2 is just out and it looks like it’s basically more of the same with a focus on another pair up among the two teams, with the inevitable volume 3 pairing off the remaining two. If there’s more world-building and librarian-ing, this could be fine, but I’m also wondering about Connall, the token gay character. With everyone else partnered off, what’s he going to get? I can’t decide if I want to find out, because on the one hand, the adventure part is interesting and there’s a discovery at the end that could mean more library stuff in the future, but on the other, the hints at the other relationships are probably going to be in the way of that again. We’ll see. I’m thinking if my own public library gets volume 2, I might do it. The library will decide.