(31 Total References)
The actual plot of the book, ...
The actual plot of the book, which is set in 2021, involves Special Agent Lila Black, who works for the intelligence and reconnaissance division of the Otopian National Security Agency.
Following a horrific ordeal on Alfheim, Lila was declared dead to her family and friends, and reconstructed into a cyborg super agent.
Lila is your typical tough girl action heroine, but she's far from comfortable with her new abilities and still dealing with the psychological fallout of the incident on Alfheim.
She's assigned as an undercover bodyguard to Zal, the lead singer of The No Shows, the latest rock sensation.
Zal, once a Prince of Alfheim, is now a renegade from his own culture, whose unapologetically unorthodox ways are threatening both the stability of Elvish society and also the uneasy truce between the Realms.
The first portion of the book is spent introducing Lila and Zal - she's angsty and insecure, but understandably so, and he's petulant and uncooperative, but attractively so - and establishing the foundations of their relationship.
But then the action kicks off, various attempts are made on Zal's life, and the focus shifts to Alfheim for the inevitable showdowns and revelations.
I responded to Zal and Lila
because of the resonance of their archetypes, rather than to them as individuals.
Zal wasn't really in it enough for to me genuinely warm to him (although Elvish rockstar, Elvish rockstar, yes please!) and his
moody rockstar act does grate a little at the beginning.
comes across better, but then she
is the primary POV; she's
a well-judged mix of strength and vulnerability, machine power and human baggage.
actions and responses are plausible, and it's a real pleasure to watch her
grow to a better understanding of elves and herself over the course of the novel.
flaws are real flaws, and some of them lead her
to make mistakes that have genuine consequences.
This works beautifully to illuminate her
moments of heroism and nobility since we also see her
mess things up and react badly, and it also serves to fashion her
as a real person, not just a sexy cyberchick tough girl stereotype.
is that, too.
Very sexy I mean.
I also loved Robson's elf culture: it's detailed and complicated and alien and, since it's only partially understood by Lila
, it retains its mystery to the reader.
Keeping It Real by Justina Robson - Official sffworld.com review
This novel, set in 2021, deals with the character of Lila Black, an undercover agent working in Intelligence and Reconnaissance (InCon) for the Otopian National Security Agency (NSA).
An unfortunate incident between Earth and Alfhelm led to Lila being declared dead to her family and friends, and being so badly hurt that many parts of her body - her left arm, her legs - were substituted with state of the art replacements.
Now with an atomic-powered set of cybernetic limbs, a built-in AI, and enough whizbang gadgets to take on anything, Lila is clearly a girl not easily ignored.
A person who has clearly had her share of difficulties, Lila is outwardly tough, though also sexy and charming, but perhaps not the sort of girl you might want as a first date.
She gives the concept of 'high maintenance' a new twist!
mission at the beginning of this book is to act as a covert bodyguard for Zal, lead singer of the latest pop sensation, The No Shows.
He is also a renegade elf, an outsider on Otopia who is also a member of Elven royalty, being sent death threats and assassins in fairly equal measure because his unorthodox manners allegedly threaten the demolition of Elven society and the uneasy truces existing between all of the Realms. 'Elves don't rock', his soon-to-be manager quips on first hearing about him.
Things change quickly when our heroine makes some costly mistakes.
becomes involved in playing The Game, (an elven process of challenge and forfeit, the conclusion being summed up as 'Victory, Defeat, or Death.') with Zal, gets cursed, and even demonically possessed.
is a cyberbabe, hypercharged with enough power to destroy buildings.
is scarred - physically, mentally and psychologically, because in the book Lila
is still having issues and having difficulties in coming to terms with her
new body mental image and her
, being new to the NSA
and clearly still recovering from her
extensive remodel, also makes mistakes.
At least two of the situations in the book could've been avoided had Lila
made other choices - a flawed heroine.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Agent Lila ...
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Agent Lila Black is on her first mission for the Otopian NSA.
To guard and investigate the lead singer of the The No Shows rock band, who happens to be an elf.
However, she is far from normal herself, even in a changed world intersecting with elven, faery, and even demon worlds.
Her assignment leads to a plot much more involved than she had ever imagined and takes her through her own internal struggle and growth.
The actual story itself centers around Lila Black
Lila is an Agent for the Otopian National Security Agency, and she is unique in that she is a cyborg.
is "James Bond" to the extreme, with numerous weapons and gadgets built into her
also has her
fragile human side with a somewhat scarred psyche which causes her
introspection throughout the book.
assignment starts off to protect and investigate Zal, an elf rock star who is getting serious death threats.
This eventually spirals into a much larger and encompassing tale of political intrigue involving Alfheim, the Elven realm.
Zal and Lila
are both outcasts in their worlds, but for different reasons.
It seems that Lila
is trying to come to grips with who she
is and where her
While Zal, who seems to be comfortable with who he
is, at a very high level seems to be an improbable evangelist.
Not a theological evangelist, but more like an evangelist with an anti-xenophobe message of equality.
No one really gets on, but ...
No one really gets on, but they all know what they are supposed to be apart from cyber-girl Lila Black, now part machine and AI, and Zal, the elf making a good go at being a rock star, which is very un-elflike.
The story heats up when the reluctant Lila is assigned as Zal's bodyguard and feelings are affected by magic.
This book's heroine, Special Agent ...
This book's heroine, Special Agent Lila Black, is unlike the heroines you find in most paranormal fantasy stories: she's not a witch, she's not a werewolf, she's not a vampire.
Well, sort of.
actually part human but has metal pieces fused to her
arms and legs.
also has a computer chip in her
Technically, that makes her
a cyborg but don't be fooled: she's
quite a bit more than that.
The main storyline centers around a special assignment given to Lila
: protect Zal, an elf rock superstar that deliberately traveled to one of the demon realms and is now part elf/part demon/part something else.
was given this assignment because there's a death squad after Zal who are dead set on killing him.
Why? Because they believe his
new powers are strong enough to bring about the downfall of elf realm.
They're also uncomfortable with his
new hybrid status and see him as a threat to the elven way of life.
Unfortunately, Zal doesn't think he
needs anyone looking after him so Lila
has a challenge on her
Not only must she
keep Zal in her
also got to fend off a death squad that's notoriously difficult to stop - they always get their man.
After a rocky start, Lila
and Zal come to respect one another.
soon confirms that Zal's powers are indeed greater than other elves.
ill-equipped to deal with the magical powers of the death squad: her
bionic abilities can protect Zal physically but they're no match against magic.
and Zal are hard pressed to stay one step ahead of the death squad.