December 2003
© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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Deprivers by Steven -Elliot Altman
Ace / Penguin Putnam Trade: ISBN 0441010938 PubDate: 12/02/03
Review by Jeffrey J. Lyons [lyonsjj@comcast.net]

368 pgs. List price $13
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Robert Luxley has what he thinks is a unique gift; the ability to remove temporarily or permanently the senses of another human with just a touch.. Not that he understands it, but he makes the most of it. Soon he discovers that there are other people just like him that have strange gifts, some more powerful. Luxley and those like him are called "Deprivers."

Luxley finds himself in a world where a powerful Conservative Governor uses paranoia and scare tactics to quarantine deprivers by passing laws to make them outcasts. It reminds you of the AIDS paranoia of the early 1980ís. Luxley and the charismatic group leader Nicholas orchestrate one of the greatest PR campaigns of all time to knock some senses into the senseless. Meantime another more rebellious group of deprivers is using its own methods to reach the same goal, which is to obtain acceptance amongst the paranoid and the general population.

Thatís part one of the book. Part two centers on "dep-lover" and unlikely hero Alex Crowley who has "Depsight" and is reluctantly enlisted by the government to find the deprivers before they strike in a make believe war trumped up by Conservative interest groups. Alex also has a bone to pick with whomever killed his depriver wife and he continually wages war within himself over his loyalties to those like his late wife and his government employer, which wants to squash them.

Altman offers many fabulous and inventive ideas but because of his convoluted presentation, the book misses the bullís eye. He frequently changes the point of view from which the story is told. It begins in the third person, and later it is told in the first person of a secondary character, and then it is back to third person. It becomes very confusing and lacks a character that you can grab onto and cheer on.

This book reads like a novella in the first half and then a series of short stories linked together to form the second half. The first half came to a satisfying conclusion but the second half never seemed to gel for me.

© 2003 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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