Quarantine – Lisabet Sarai (Total E-Bound Publishing)

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Buy it now from Total E-Bound

Because I hadn’t read any of Sarai’s work before, I perused her website
after reading Quarantine. She’s prolific, and has obviously met with
significant publishing success. Giving her full credit for that success, I have
to assume other readers would be much less hesitant in praising this book, and
that I just wasn’t the best one to review it.

In a dystopian future, a plague carried by homosexuals has ravaged North
America. Men carrying the H-gene have been herded into prison camps while the
shadowy and tyrannical Guardians govern what is left of the population with
brute force and robotic technology. Dylan Moore is an inmate in one of the
camps. He seduces Rafe, one of the camp guards into helping him escape. When
Dylan’s break goes awry, Rafe rescues him and they both become fugitives.
Together they seek a haven in Sanfran, and inadvertently become entangled in a
struggle that will shape the future of the planet.

Sarai’s plot is inventive enough, but in several places it relies on
suspect logic (the prison generator plant is located directly inside the
compound where it is most vulnerable to sabotage) or it stretched credulity
(Dylan is able to make sophisticated electronic controls from harmless scrap
that override programming of guard robots and the prison’s master systems).

The writing is unrelenting in its blunt and rough cadence, but also
compelling. And there are compelling themes at work in the story – religious
homophobia, national narcissism, genetic engineering, addictive digital
pornography, vile big brother style government. One truly charming metaphor
appears as the totalitarian government employs the visage of President
Eisenhower as its icon. The irony of Eisenhower’s warning of the dangers of the
“military-industrial complex” at the end of his presidency was inescapable.

Treatment of scene action, however, seemed uneven to this reader. Some plot
challenges were described in painstaking detail, such as Dylan’s escape from
the inner compound of his prison, or Rafe’s climb up the wall of a house where
Dylan is later held captive, but other times omitted completely without a
single word, let alone a narrative bridge—Rafe and Dylan escape from that house
and end up safely back in the city completely off-stage.  Poof.

Quarantine is categorized as Erotic Romance – which means the
on-stage sex is frequent and graphic. Allowing that what fires us up erotically
varies wildly from person to person, I have to admit I found the sex scenes
repetitive in tone, intensity and choreography, and just too frequent to
partner the story.

It’s hard sometimes to keep clear how two “he” characters make
love, often requiring more character tags than with het scenes. But several
times I was yanked out of a sex scene because Rafe was referred to as “the
black man,” or “the ex-guard” which to my ear worked against any
sense of any intimacy being generated.

While some of Dylan’s emotional responses to situations and people didn’t
make sense to me, his overall courage and growth was sufficient to keep my
interest. I kept rooting for him and Rafe, and for their happiness right to the
end of the book.

Which raises my final objection. Quarantine clearly requires a
sequel, because the story just stops mid-scene. Not a single major story
question raised in the book—other than whether Rafe and Dylan will love/trust
each other—is resolved. The curtain comes down with a thud and the house lights
go on, but it’s not intermission. It’s the end. This reader was not prepared for
such an abrupt termination of the story.

I read some excerpts of Sarai’s other work on her website, and I don’t feel
Quarantine is a fair representation of her skill as a writer, or her
gift as a storyteller. I think her existing fans will enjoy Quarantine
regardless, but prospective fans might want to read one of her other works
before picking up this book.


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©, 2013, Lloyd A. Meeker

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