PJV Quickie: CIPHER began as science fiction thriller mutated into a harlequin novel. My 2.5 star review was because of personal distaste and not because the actual story was badly written.
Review: CIPHER begins with an awesome hacking scene that trickles in some important backstory without losing any tension. Not only is Cipher worried about getting caught, but her nerves (she can control electricity) cause her to fry her computer. She’s out of a computer, alerted the authorities of her location, and she’s about to take off. Cipher is guilt-tripped into staying locally despite the risks, giving Knight the first opportunity in years to find her.
And then we meet Knight, who has been searching for Cipher for years, only Knight knows her by a different name. He gives us a little more backstory about how Cipher saved his life and he wants to repay that debt by saving hers.
So far. So good.
The moment Knight and Cipher met, I felt like DNFing the book. Knight has no interest in girls until this moment and then there’s pages and pages of how he can’t possibly live without her. We get the same emotions from Cipher’s POV. She’s never been on a date before meeting Knight, and yet she’s madly in love with him. Worse, it goes on for chapters. From 45% to 78% is romance, romance, and romance.
After escaping from the authorities, Knight and Cipher find a secluded island and then proceed to lather sunblock on each other. Seriously, a beach scene in a sci-fi thriller novel? Not surprisingly, they get caught on the beach by the people they’re suppose to be hiding from.
I understand that this is the first book of a series, but there are several subplots that aren’t fully explained and the side characters aren’t fleshed out. It’s hinted that the Lady (Knight’s boss) isn’t trustworthy. Also, Cipher’s uncle is the one hunting her down, but there’s no development in the uncle’s character and or explanation for his motives. Mona was my favorite side character, yet still one dimensional. Mona is Cipher’s best friend and a girl who knows how to cuss without it feeling offensive. Knight has three friends and I kept getting them confused with one another.
In the final 25% of the novel, the tension picked back up and reminded me how much I loved the beginning of this book. If you like romance, then I think this would be a decent read. I’m not sure if I’d be able to tolerate the lovey-dovey narratives of both Cipher and Knight and continue the series, but I’m not a huge fan of romances in general.
Recommended: I think CIPHER would appeal to fans of Aimee Kaufman’s THESE BROKEN STARS if the romance was more appealing than the sci-fi aspect. Hard-core science fiction fans might want to avoid CIPHER.