When Nadia Velasquez wakes up from a coma that lasted three years, she is in remarkably good shape, all things considered. Nevertheless, her past life remains a hazy mystery to her. She only knows what her doctors and friends tell her about herself--that she was a respected journalist who was severely injured when her interview with the Nigerian president was interrupted by a devastating bomb. She works to regain her life but can't shake the feeling that everyone is concealing something from her. A chance encounter with a man named Jon, a stranger who she just knows is no stranger, confirms her suspicions but also places them both in danger because her pursuers will stop at nothing to prevent anyone from finding out the truth about Nadia's past.
Becoming NADIA is author Cyrus Keith's debut novel and the first in his The NADIA Project trilogy. (A special thank you to Cyrus for sending me an ARC to review!) I am not as familiar with science fiction as I would like to be, so this fast-paced sci fi thriller was a great introduction to the genre. And when I say fast-paced, I do mean fast-paced. From the moment Nadia opens her eyes in her hospital room to the final page, the plot is rife with suspense, surprises, and twists and turns. I love a good chase scene, and much of the novel is a protracted chase between Nadia and her enemies. Even better, the chapters rotate between focusing on Nadia and Jon and focusing on those who are chasing her. As a result, the dramatic tension mounts even more as you wait for the inevitable moment when everyone comes together. I think this structure is far more effective than if the story had just been told through Nadia's POV and the audience kept in the dark concerning the other characters.
Nadia herself is a likable character, and this factor, in addition to the engaging plot, is why I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning reading Becoming NADIA. As a general rule, I am often more critical of female protagonists just because I feel that, more often than not, they are usually not given as complex of personalities as their male counterparts. I liked the fact that Nadia is far from perfect but still remains a character you want to root for. It also certainly doesn't hurt that she's facing off against some of the most sinister villains I've encountered for awhile in a book. The remaining cast of characters are all also well-crafted, with my personal favorite being snarky, nebbishy computer hacker Bunny Kalinsky. Ah, we nerds must stick together.
Though Becoming NADIA certainly is a great read just on the basis of the suspenseful plot and realistic characters, what sets this book apart from others is its philosophical depth. The book raises several intriguing questions about the nature of identity and memory that I found compelling. Nadia and her allies' struggles to reconcile these issues with the reality of their situation adds a further touch of meat to this book but without ever bogging the action down.
This book is an excellent thriller with impeccable pacing and believable characters. I highly recommend it. However, I must warn you, if you read Becoming NADIA, plan on reading the rest of the series when those books are released because you will be hooked! Becoming NADIA will be available as an e-book from Museitup Publishing next month. You can order a copy and read an excerpt here. You can learn more about author Cyrus Keith here.
Next Time: *stares into magic eight ball* I am going to go out a limb here and predict that I'm not going to be able to do another review until this semester ends in May. I'm sorry! I wish it were not so! I do have a review of Art Spiegelman's Maus almost finished, and if I get a chance to finish it, I might try to post that between now and May. If not, I should be able to resume regular book blogging in May after this semester is over. Thanks to all of you for your patience!
This Week in Literary History: 26 March 1920 F. Scott Fitzgerald publishes his first book, This Side of Paradise. Though the book turned Fitzgerald into an overnight success, he didn't truly make his mark on American literary history until he wrote his classic The Great Gatsby five years later. I love The Great Gatsby, primarily because I am obsessed with all things 1920s and adore Fitzgerald's eloquent style, but I'm also quite fond of some of Fitzgerald's short stories that he wrote later in life. After living through years of fame, decadence, and heartache, Fitzgerald descended further into alcoholism, but his writing style matured in the process. At the very least, humor me and read "Babylon Revisited."