Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5
Sometime in the future, a mysterious climate event caused torrential rains to fall, raising the water levels in New York City so high that huge areas were soon lost underwater and what civilians that could were evacuated, never to return. Now a vastly different New York City is rising up from the flooded land, one where decadence reigns—gambling, the flesh trade, a playground for the wealthy. And underneath? Crime, fueled by “Dead Bolt,” a destructive designer drug.
Left behind in the initial evacuation as a young teen, now a grown Nox Boyet leads a double life. At night, he is the Vigilante, struggling to keep the streets safe for citizens abandoned by the corrupt government and police. During the day, he works in construction and does his best to raise his adopted teenaged son, Sam.
High priced whore, “model” Cade Creel, a high-end prostitute working at the Iron Butterfly Casino is asked by one of his influential “regular” clients to hand deliver an envelope to a person named Sam Boyer. Never did Cade expect his delivery to take him into the worst parts of town where mugging and killings are frequent, and the best options where even worse outcomes have been known to occur. A “rescue” by the Vigilante and the delivery made to Sam trigger an intense attraction between Nox and Cade, one that ignites as dark figures from Nox’s past and the mysterious peddlers of Dead Bolt begin to descend—and put all their lives in danger. When things spin out of control, Cade is the only person Nox can trust to help him save Sam.
My hopes for Who Knows the Storm ran high. The author? One of my favorite and an automatic buy for her stories. The synopsis? Intriguing and current, especially the element of a climatic weather event drowning New York City, a possibility that many experts expect to happen in the not so distant future. Plus it was the first in a new series called The Vigilante, another bonus. Unfortunately, while Who Knows the Storm has many fine attributes, taken together they never add up to a logically constructed, gripping whole story. Sigh.
Set in some vague dystopian future, the settings and locations made sense while the backstory did not. Everyone expects the sea levels to rise, especially given recent storms like Hurricane Sandy which left a wide path of destruction in its wake, including submerged subways and highly populated boroughs underwater. But here there was no effort made to reclaim the city, leaving it to crumble,falling into such disrepair and unhealthy state that no one returns to live there? That’s the first premise the reader has to buy into and its a huge one that never feels believable. New Yorkers giving up on their city? The rich and influential fleeing, leaving their riches behind? Uh no. Especially when there are already cities (think Amsterdam or Venice or…) with the working technology to erect sea barriers. There exist pumps to flush out the subways (which they did in Sandy), and so much more that is general knowledge that this “world building” is off to a shaky start on a foundation built on plot that never comes together. I never bought into this dystopian world and that lack of believability and connection damaged the rest of the story.
Then there were the characters. Nox Boyet’s past is seen through the eyes of an abandoned 15 year old, one living through an ecological disaster of immense proportions. This element of the story is both moving and affective. We don’t need a reason for the rains to become affected by a young person in danger in uncertain times. The descriptions and scenes are desperation incarnate and the frailty of Nox’s situation pulls the reader in…for a while.
Then we transition from the past, forward to a year and then to the nebulous present and Nox as not only an wary adult but a father of teenaged son. The vast gap between the child left behind and the aged Nox just highlights the missed opportunities to flesh out the world building and answer the many questions floating around in the reader’s minds.
The pov switches from character to character, transitioning in a manner that’s not always as smooth as one could hope. Michaels is also trying to establish all the main series plot threads, events and characters while balancing the need of the immediate storyline and character growth. Sometimes it works and other times not so much. Events from the past are reintroduced throughout the story but often lead to more questions not answers. There are character with multiple identities and everywhere a facades are erected to hide the actual events and people responsible for them. I rather liked the “smoke and mirrors” aspect to Michael’s plot. There are some nasty little surprises in store for the main characters and shocks for the readers as well. It’s a convoluted trip Tere Michaels takes us on. There are white-knuckle moments galore, and gut clenchers (yes I know that’s not a word but it should be) to satisfy most picky of action/suspense readers around. But…..it never all comes together and feels like a harmonious whole. It’s feels jumbled and a bit dense in places, and the “aha” moments come and go a little too quickly.
The last thing? The ending, which leaves major components and figures unresolved and unidentified. That’s actually ok with me as this is the first in a series, and I can see the author using this mysterious scheme and head villain as an “umbrella layer” for all the books to come. I was left strangely unsatisfied at the end of the story. I just don’t think this part of the story was part of that unsettled feeling. I’m still thinking about that one.
If you are a Tere Michael’s fan or a lover of dystopian stories, you might love Who Knows the Storm (The Vigilante #1). This is a story that could go either way with readers, some will love it and others won’t make it to the finish. You will have to be the judge.
Cover Artist: Angsty G. The coloration is nice. I wish the idea of a New York Red District rising out of filth laden waters would have translated to the cover.
ebook, 240 pages
Published October 17th 2014 by Dreamspinner Press
seriesThe Vigilante #1