The Premise: After a series of devastating waves, the world in the near future has been reduced to a series of islands. People are constantly afraid of yet another wave sweeping them away, and chaos reigns. Groups of pirates called Runners roam the seas and shores, killing and raping without consequence or conscience. Kathryn "Blue" O'Malley is Tsunami Blue, a girl who can predict the waves. She uses her radio to warn people of impeding danger, hoping that someone believes and lives are saved. She's spent many years in hiding with her dog Max for company, until one night a man washes up on the shore. Soon afterward the Runners come, hoping to use Blue's gift for their own benefit, and Gabriel Black, the man she saved, drags her unwillingly with him.
My Thoughts: If you are a fan of futuristics who misses the Shomi Line, this book is a welcome treat. It fulfills my expectations: a science fiction romance which is set in our world some time in the future. Gayle Ann Williams took the recent disasters in South East Asia in 2005 and created a dystopian future. The oceans have taken over and can communicate it's intentions to Blue, teasing and taunting her about it's next move. When Blue was young, she was in Thailand with her family and she heard the ocean tell her it was coming. Her cries for people to move to higher ground saved a lot of lives, but her family was lost and Blue was left with her ruthless uncle, a man who became a Runner and used Blue for his own power games. At the start of this book Blue's uncle is long gone, but she remembers living as a young girl among the Runners. Think of those groups of killers that terrorize everyone else in movies - the Smokers in Waterworld, the marauders in Mad Max, or (to less of an extent), the Reavers in Serenity and in Firefly and you have a fair idea of what a Runner is.
Part of the conflict in the romance is that Gabriel Black is a Runner. Blue sees the marks on him that identify him as such and she's horrified that she saved his life. When he takes her with him, she regrets her decision even more. But Gabriel has a mysterious personality. He's fastidious with his boat, a very different type of person than the usual Runner. Then there's the mystery of why he was on Blue's island and what he wants. As the book continues you realize there's a lot he's not saying. There are a few revelations that are held back. I'm still not sure why Gabriel hadn't just explained himself rather than waiting. Maybe it was to prolong the suspense about whose side he was on, but it's fairly obvious he is the hero and thus cannot be bad (heh). It's clear to the reader, although not to Blue, that Gabriel has been in love with her for a long time. He's been looking for her for years and there's a romantic notion in loving someone from afar, but it could veer into stalker territory. I think Gabriel managed not to cross over the "creepy" line.
In the meantime, Blue is the first person narrator of the book. She has a somewhat young, sarcastic voice (she swears a lot but is trying to reform), and I found her likable. She feels a great responsibility in her gift and wants to save people, especially the children, and she's also got a tough-girl edge. She may have been saved by Gabriel on her island but she saves him too (more than once). And there's a little bit of humor in the way she narrates things that I loved:
The only problem I had with her is related to my complaint about Gabriel not being forthright earlier in the book. Trust was a conflict in the relationship but the conflict was prolonged so it made Blue sound like she "doth protest too much". She flips back and forth between melting for Gabriel and then realizing she shouldn't and then she contemplates his death or stealing his ship. She kept voicing her suspicions to the reader but her actions didn't match her words.
That is probably the only quibble I have on my part because I enjoyed the rest of the romance. I thought that it had had a lot of sweet moments and that as a couple Gabriel and Blue were well matched. Gabriel had a seriousness that complimented Blue's sarcasm and a skill in guessing what was on her mind.
So I liked Tsunami Blue. I think I got my copy on a Thursday, started reading it Friday night, and finished it Sunday morning (and this was a busy weekend with people visiting). I had a fun time imaging Blue's world and her voice in my head.
Overall: Very good. Buy it for sure if you like futuristic romance and liked the Shomi line. It's a fun book with a sarcastic narrator and good pacing. It makes me think of a summer action movie in words.
Buy: Amazon | Powells
Guest post by Gayle Ann Williams at Galaxy Express