Book Review: The Morph (2 of 5 Stars)

The Morph by JC Andrijeski is a science fiction book that was originally published as a serial on the author’s webpage. When the story opens it is set in modern-day Seattle and we meet Dakota Reyes, a bounty hunter who is currently going after her most recent mark. In the process she gets in a little over her head and is rescued by a stranger. This stranger, whose name is Nik, turns out to be an undercover alien and Dakota accidentally follows him into a portal to another dimension. In the process she ends up unexpectedly bonded to this alien (who claims ownership over her) and stuck far away from home. The Morph follows the events that ensue as she learns how to live among these aliens and survive this world.

I didn’t like this book, but had a really hard time pinpointing exactly why I didn’t like this book. It’s a relatively original plot. Despite the portal being somewhat reminiscent of the Stargate series, it was not a story I felt like I heard before. I was at least two-thirds of the way through the book before the reason for my dislike of this book occurred to me: the main character, Dakota, is not an active participant in this story. Yes, she is present for the entire story, but she doesn’t really do anything. She is ultimately just an observer. Yes, there were a few points where her presence may have been a catalyst for the ensuing events, but all-in-all her presence did not really add anything to the plot.

While that is my main problem with the book, there are other things that caused me to dislike it. First of all, we are led to believe that Dakota is a strong, independent, American woman. Her actions, however, do not really corroborate this description. When she finds herself in this other dimension and is told that she is now owned by this Nik, she has absolutely no reaction beyond “Oh, so you’re saying I am stuck here?” What?? Where was her outrage? Where was her response of “Screw you! Nobody owns me?” I understand at first other things might take priority for a reaction, but that outrage never surfaces. Ever.

In addition to that, there are several things that are mentioned in the story and then never have any follow-up, leaving the reader to guess that it was only mentioned earlier because it would allow the story to make more sense at that point. For example, pretty early on in the story Dakota is given an implant that gives her the ability to communicate telepathically with Nik. Sometimes they would use this asa  convenient way to have a conversation in private while surrounded by people. Others times, Dakota would make comments along the line of “I wish I could have a private conversation with Nik but there are ears everywhere.”

Lastly, there is the relationship between Dakota and Nik. While I liked Nik’s character, the attraction between the two characters confused me. Were they only attracted because of their connection through their bonding? We are told it is more than a physical attraction, but we never really see anything that would explain why they love each other.

This novel has potential, but it felt like it could use a lot of honest reader feedback and a massive rewrite. I wanted to like this story, but in its current state I cannot.

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