Bringing in elements of the uncertainty of the future with the fantastic imaginings of science fiction, “The Prey of Gods” by Nicky Drayden pushes the boundaries of imagination. Her focus for this story is to breathe life into characters being put into extraordinary circumstances, but not enough to detract from what her world offers the reader. There are elements of struggling with identity, upholding tradition versus taking pride in who you are and questions about what it means to be human. A Zulu girl holds enough incredible power in the palm of her hand to destroy her entire village, a mechanical being transcends the limits of the term “robot” with an incredibly potent sense of sentience and nobility that rivals a human, a star performer who holds a painful past under her projectd exterior and even a demigoddess who works at a nail salon in the evenings.
Drayden pushes the idea that these are still people, even if they do not fit the typical description of what makes a person just that. A plot is brewing with the advancement of humanity through genetic manipulation and the incredible wonder-drug known as Godsend, with the intent of unlocking the hidden capability due to the extraordinary locked away in DNA.
This is only given to those brave enough to participate in the experiments, all while the head of the project plots to create as much hovac and terror as possible. More elements are drawn from finding out exactly what fuels the character’s unique abilities. These range from mind control to healing physical injuries, but there is always a cost to pay for such power. Everything comes together in a rush of creativity where sentient chimera, doomed romances and heartfelt sacrifice are the icing on a carefully made cake. With each chapter told by different characters all approaching the world in their own perspective, pacing stays strong and interesting..
What makes this debut work so impressive is exactly how diverse the cast is,meaning that it’s genuinely difficult not to find someone to cheer on or relate to in the story. The characters are by no means perfect in today’s society, giving the reader something to identify with right off the bat. Considering this is a debut work for Drayden, she leaves readers hungry for more.
The groundwork for what could become an entire series has been laid with the utmost care and reverence, showing a dedication to the reader that all great writers show. It’s a respect towards the intelligence of the readers who want something to engage them as well as be a fun ride. A compelling universe of rich lore has been established and is just waiting for readers to dive into a world beyond their imagination, but always tantalizingly close to grasp.