Foreign Identity, by Becca J. Campbell is quite probably the strangest alien abduction story I have read: “strangest” as in unique and imaginative. It is also a genre-melding story that brings together elements of romance, fantasy, mystery and Sci-Fi.
A note on the romance angle: I tend to avoid modern romance novels because so many of them are a cape of pornography hung on a wireframe of plot. The primary thrust of the story (pun intended) is graphically described sex. Foreign Identity is not one of those.
The story begins with a man and a woman chained to opposite ends of a strange room. They awaken to discover that they have no memory of who they are, where they are, or how they got there. The room is a puzzle, a puzzle they must work together to solve. But it is also just the first step in a long series of challenges that are before them as they get to know one another and try to discover who they are, what is happening to them and how to get back “home”.
The story – which I can’t say much about without spoiling it for you – is imaginative and well written. Ms. Campbell is a good story teller. The pace steps right along and keeps you turning the pages. Even the Kindle version is formatted well: there are scene changes within each chapter where the point of view changes and is indicated by using a line of white space. In most Kindle books I’ve read this technique fails because the conversion strips out the added white space. Not this one; here it works. Kudos to Consortium Books for getting that right.
Character development is slow, we don’t really get to know them until the end of the book, but that is natural when the main characters have no (or very little) background to draw upon for backstory. It is backstory that is normally used to flesh out a character by showing how that person got to be who they are through glimpses of where they came from and experiences they’ve had. Using amnesia as part of the story sets up an extra challenge to the author.
The editing could be better. The first 40% is quite good. Between 40% and 60% is pretty rough and beyond that is just fair. Spelling and punctuation are good, most of the stumbling blocks are places where a passage was rewritten but not proof read afterward and fragments were left behind which break the flow of the story. Speed readers may not even see them: I savor every word and these errors are like a fingernail in the soup.
My only other criticism is a minor point that will go unnoticed by many, especially romance fans but it stood up and screamed at me: nearly all of the emotional response cues were focused on their heart. This is a standard gambit in romance novels, but I should think that someone with the story telling abilities and imagination of Ms. Campbell could exchange some of the heart fluttered, heart soared, heart sank, heart pounded, heart raced with eyes widening in amazement, nostrils flaring in anger, fists pounding in frustration… so many physical cues are available to a skilled author.
These issues are detractions, but not deal killers. The story is good, the pace is lively. There is no gore or porn to offend the sensitive. There are challenges to overcome for the characters, moments of joy and fear and hope and terror, but it all ends in an upbeat fashion. An enjoyable tale that is worth your time to read.