A gritty science fiction novel of this calibre is normally not my type of reading. I cannot normally bring myself to enjoy them, let alone read them. But for Conditioned Response, the second ebook in a planned series, I can make an exception.
Despite the sexuality of the book (which thankfully was not forced and too explicit like some authors) I found I could like this novel enough by the end. However the reason I cannot give this four stars goes beyond the simple sexuality and swearing. I can ignore those in a novel if the rest of the book grips me incredibly hard (they're minor pet peeves so to speak). However I was not gripped by the novel until the second half which could be me personally.
Conditioned Response was certainly set in an intriguing world. A world where a woman from a race of beings known as the Phoenicians struggles to work for her people in a human run civilisation. This is a civilisation where men appear to be sterile and where humans called Proctors are strung together out of genetic material from various donors. There also existed various methods of brainwashing or Adjusting which created a layer of intrigue again to add to the political intrigue. The Phoenicians had interesting powers as a race with the ability to harness energy and throw it out in front of them if they wish.
Despite this interesting world the plot lagged for me at the start. I found that it was only when I was about halfway into the novel that it picked up the pace and that the true action elements which I enjoyed begun. That was when I could read about Phoenician powers in action. I think the fact that this novel was highly dialogue run rather than description run also made me less able to appreciate it. While I do not mind long periods of dialogue I do love long paragraphs of descriptive work more and there appeared to be more dialogue than description. That is not taking anything away from the storytelling or writing because the writing was excellent and the entire plot was nicely constructed. I just could not enjoy the book on my own personal level and gain most satisfaction from it.
The characters were interesting but not entirely likeable. Raif was ruined for me by what was a necessary obsession in the plot I look forward to reading about him when he has not been altered. Shayla also was far too naive and self centred to be entirely likeable. Still the characters did fit the story and surroundings, again a sign of quality writing in my opinion. It was simply not my preferred story type as I mentioned above. I do however congratulate the author for making a gritty sci-fi that I could actually enjoy to some level.
In summary I do fully recommend this e-book for any of my followers interested in a gritty, action filled sci-fi. It may not be to everyone's style but those who like this type of sci fi will find that it is a quality novel. The author sets out to write a particular book and she succeeds (in one of the better 'debut' novels I have read may I add). Not to mention that there are very few who have read it and as such you can be free to form your own opinion about it. I highly recommend this and feel that it should be read by those who enjoy their science fiction with a touch of smoulder and grit.