Shifter Planet by D.B. Reynolds

Posted in Fantasy/ Reviews/ Speculative Fiction/ Syfy/ Syfy Romance 17th April 2016
Shifter Planet by D.B. ReynoldsShifter Planet by D.B. Reynolds
Published by Entangled Publishing on October 26th 2015
Pages: 449
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four-stars

Specialist Amanda Sumner is one of the first to make contact on the Earth-like planet Harp and discovers she's the only Earthling, who can hear the trees sing in the strange forest. Determined to remain and learn more of the planet’s secrets, Amanda sets out to become part of the elite Guild there...
But there is a secret involving some Guild members–one that could get her killed.
Shifter Rhodry de Mendoza wants the Earthlings off his planet before they destroy it—even if that means denying what he feels for the fierce and lovely Amanda. The pair is thrown together in what becomes a fight for their lives. And they might just lose everything–including each other–in their battle for the right to live in peace.

I began this book a while ago, then left it by the wayside because it was difficult to get into the action immediately. Picking it up months later and soldering on with more patience, ‘Shifter Planet’ turned out to be a rewarding and imaginative read that got better and better as the story wore on. Despite the rich world-building, much of it really is about Lieutenant Amanda Sumner’s (somewhat unexplained) ties to a beautiful planet called Harp and her decision to stay after a future Earth forges a trade treaty with its inhabitant. Plunged immediately into politics that she finds herself nearly unable to handle, Amanda is determined to settle in this place as one of them while seeking membership in the Guild: an all-male, royalty-infused, testosterone-filled hunter-shifter club.

It’s only after a rather bloated setup that the story really takes off, taking on the aplomb of a quest-like journey that combines the archetypes of fantasy writing and the action-adventure thrills of cinema while building on a romance that was long time in coming.

A lot of ‘Shifter Planet’ reads like a novelisation of the pro-feminist movement, where a solitary woman takes on a very exclusive group of shapeshifter-hunter-guildsmen, with every odd stacked against her and wins, even managing to save the hero in the process. Not that I’m against the values of equal rights for women, but Amanda’s occasional petulance seemed an unnecessary overcompensation for the slights she faces at every turn. Thankfully, Amanda isn’t too much of a superwoman where every shred of vulnerability has been fully trained out of her. Without the claws and the natural strength and ability of the shifters, she’s left with her ingenuity, wits and training to survive but not without injuries and blows on the way, which didn’t place her straight in the unreachable heights of the stratosphere where only unrealistic heroines dwell.

But the back-burner romance, while gratifying to read because it isn’t instant love, was left in embers with the hurried declarations of love immediately after the fallout. While I loved their time together after Amanda rescues Rhodry, the ending left me wondering if someone had deliberately torn out the last pages of their story because there was still so much more of this pairing that could have been explored after the trials and aftermath but wasn’t.

four-stars

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