Thursday, 25 October 2012
Book Review: Trinity by Kristin Dearborn
by Kristin Dearborn
Fresh out of jail and hopeful his troubles are behind him, Valentine Slade returns to his hometown of Lott, New Mexico. But for Val, his troubles are just beginning. His girlfriend’s State Trooper brother comes after him with a shotgun, his mother Caroline has been diagnosed with a mysterious form of terminal cancer, and a mutilated corpse is found on the road outside his house.
And there’s something more…something…unnatural out in the desert…something that is not human watches and waits, luring Val deeper and deeper into a terrifying mystery that may very well be tied to otherworldly intelligence…and tied to Val himself. To find the truth Val must delve into nightmares he’d rather forget, horrors he’d rather not know, and into places where there is nowhere to hide.
We are not alone. There is no escape from the truth. No escape from…TRINITY.
In some parts reminiscent of The X-Files and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Trinity has a good sci-fi base at its core. While the storyline itself doesn't add anything new to the genre - grey, black-eyed aliens who abduct humans for experimentation, another alien race who use humans as host bodies and an alien monster out in the desert, what makes this book stand out is the characterisation.
An ex-convict might have seemed a strange choice for the 'hero' of a novel, and I did wonder whether he was going to be sympathetic and whether I could relate to him. The truth is, I did. Val was a victim of circumstance more than anything, with an alcoholic mother who the all the town folk thought was crazy with her claims of multiple alien abductions, and an unknown father, he's had a hard life.
He was in jail because he had sex with his then underage girlfriend. I don't know what age the woman in question was, so I can't judge on that score. It would make a difference if she was thirteen say, or seventeen. I don't know, it wasn't referenced in the book. From a country where the age of consent is sixteen, I do find it strange to see a seventeen year old as underage. We're also allowed to drink alcohol at eighteen, so the over twenty-one rule seems way out there as well. But, anyway, you get the impression that his jail sentence was rather harsh, although I suppose it would depend on where you live and your own cultural stance on such things.
It's when he gets out of jail that the trouble really starts for Val. He hears a strange humming in his head, he sleepwalks out to the desert and wakes up covered in blood, with no idea how it got there. When the mutilated corpses turn up, the reader and Val are both left wondering if he had something to do with these strange murders. His girlfriend Kate sticks by him, but she suspects him as well and wants both of them to leave and go to Santa Fe. Val doesn't want to leave his ill mother and they both know they won't be going anywhere until she dies. Val's guilt at wanting to leave and knowing his duty to stay is handled very well and you never felt that he was just being an awful person, he was just torn in both directions by the two women in his life - his mother and girlfriend.
The book is fast-paced and quite a page-turner, you need to keep reading to see what happens next. I was a bit confused at first when I got to a section that had the header "Extract from Trinity" and I thought to myself, "Isn't the book I'm reading called Trinity?" Yes, it was, but it has sections from another book called "Trinity" within it. I think I would have called the book within the book something else, not the same title as the one being read. Some scenes are a little bit gory, so not for the faint of heart.
Ms. Dearborn delves deep into the heart of her characters, even the alien ones, and it is this, along with the excellent prose, that makes it more than just another tale of contact.
If you're a fan of traditional sci-fi, with a little bit of horror thrown in, then give this one a go.
Reviewed by Annette Gisby.