March 8, 2011

Review: Jaq's Harp by Ella Drake

Jaq's Harp
Author: Ella Drake
Publisher: Corina Press
ISBN: 1426891237
Purchase Information:

*This novel provided by the publisher via NetGalley

For more information please visit Ella Drake's website.

In a world of floating islands and bio-engineered beans, the bad guys are taken down by agents of the Mother organization—agents like Jacqueline “Jaq” Robinson. Instead of accepting her next routine assignment, she sets out on a mission of her own—to destroy Giant Corp, the company responsible for her sister’s wasting illness. Jaq must steal her cure from Giant’s headquarters high above the city…even though she’ll be brought face-to-face with Harper English, the man who left her to go deep undercover at Giant.

For Harp, Jaq had been a distraction the mercenary thought he couldn’t afford. But once he sees her again, Harp knows he’s made a mistake. Even though she vowed he won’t have her again, it’s clear they still have a powerful attraction. Harp’s determined to get a second chance with Jaq—if they can escape Giant Corp and get back to solid ground in one piece…
Jaq's Harp by Ella Drake is an imaginative, futuristic twist on the well known children's classic Jack and the Beanstalk. While this may be an extremely short novella, coming in with under seventy-five pages, this is still a romantically charged, action packed story that was interesting and enjoyable.

With many subtle and not so subtle references toward the original fairy tale, this novella grips the classic and drags it into the next millennium with bio-engineered bean stalks and evil giants in the form of corrupt medical corporations with an underlying story of true love. While the world building might be a bit forced given the confines in which it had to be developed, what I saw showed great potential as there was a nicely defined difference between the 'haves' and the 'have nots' illustrating the hierarchy in which the world exists. The futuristic attributes created an interesting environment for the story to take place in. All in all I loved the bleak world of the 'Landers' compared to the pristine and opulent existence of the 'Islanders' above. It creates a great contrast and an obvious segregation between good and evil...or should I say the just and the corrupt that I really enjoyed.

The character are likewise interesting and I instantly like Jaq's fiery persona. She's a bit of a free spirit, with a vulnerable and caring nature underneath a veneer of sarcasm. Brave and heroic, she is willing to go to any length to protect her sister and I found that to be quite admirable. Harp was just as interesting as he wears his heart on his sleeve and is no less noble in his actions. His love of Jaq is never once questionable, though he feels that he looses himself in that love, mainly because she isn't brave enough to open up as freely to him about her own emotions. While there could have been a lot more development in both character, I don't think that the quick introduction in to them or the brief over view of their past together hindered my enjoyment of the story in any way. In fact, I instantly recognized the spark between them and liked their gruff, lust riddled mannerisms. In truth, the only thing that would have made me like this story more was further exploration into their relationship. Especially as both are willing to undergo extreme pain, even death, to save the other. I mean, who wouldn't want to know more about that type of a connection? One other thing I would have liked to see more developed and further explored is Jaq's sister, Merry. Because we have only minimal dealings with her, I couldn't find myself to actually care about her illness. In fact, the relationship between Harp and Jaq far out shadowed the more familial aspect casting Merry into the background, despite the fact that it is because of her the Jaq undertakes this heroic and dangerous mission.

Also, on this topic I would have liked to know more about the sinister plot to infect the masses with this mysterious sickness in the guise of a cure. I think this was a wonderful aspect that was under played. The threat that Giant Corp presented just seemed to fall flat. Also, some of the character's actions at times can be a little odd. I mean the scene in which Harp strips and expects a quickie before making an escape when Jaq was evidently mad at him was a bit ill timed and ludicrous given the situation. There are a couple more instances when you have to simply scratch your head and wonder what is going on in the character's minds. But, there's quite a bit of action within this short story that did make sense and that kept the pace moving. However, like with some of the action, there were times when the action sequences could become a bit muddled and confusing, which threw off the pace at times as well.

Overall, there were parts of this story that really worked well and a few that didn't, but as whole it was still enjoyable. The unique, futuristic spin on this story was fun and I definitely loved the way the author brought the tale to life. In the end, if you enjoy the re-telling of the classic fairy tales or futuristic plots then this tale is for you!

My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars

Advisory: Some mild adult content

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