Duanta Beads - Jackson Cordd This review can be found at The Armchair Reader.

Evan and Rourke are two very different types of humans. Evan is a Vaultee, a person who’s lived his whole life in a shelter underground; Rourke is a Common, an evolved human with a thick layer of fur everywhere on him which protects him from the harsh conditions of the sun. When they meet, Evan’s disgust is evident but overtime they strike up a friendship that turns into more. With them both learning about each other’s cultures and developing a deeper connection, they’re limited to only nights together. Soon, Evan wants more than that and decides to find a way to make that happen. The problem is, the only solution that’s ideal is turning himself into the very being that he was raised to hate and fear… and that’s a Common.

This was a fascinating story. The world the author created is extremely captivating and the way that humans have evolved, yet been reduced to a very basic setting was very well done. I loved the way that Evan started out disgusted by Rourke but then couldn’t get Rourke out of his head. From Evan’s perspective, Evan is the sophisticated one while Rourke is the beast. Quite literally since Rourke has, from what I understand, the appearance of a gorilla, although with more humane features and more intelligence. I enjoyed the connection Evan and Rourke created, how Rourke thought of things in the most basic of ways yet Evan thought of them in a more scientific way. I felt like, even for such a short story, Evan grew as a character. I absolutely adored Evan’s version of the bonding beads. I found it so sweet and I really liked that concept of the story (along with everything else).

Since the book is so short, however, it only covers those first few meetings between Rourke and Evan. The slow relationship they develop and then the eventual decision on Evan’s part to become a Common and how he establishes that. It’s a good start to a series, however, it does end rather abruptly in a cliffhanger, which leaves a bunch of questions about Rourke’s tribe, his customs and such. Beyond that, I found that there was a lot of head-hopping that had me very confused because for the most part, it is from Evan’s POV but occasionally there would be one or two paragraphs here or there that was from Rourke’s perspective, which it interrupted the flow of the story. Aside from that, I felt like Evan’s solution and retrovirus was too easy to create, and quite quick. I didn’t understand how that was possible even if the machines he had were so advanced.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. There’s a lot I’m not elaborating on because it’s a bit difficult to do so. The book ends on a cliffhanger and there are problems with it but I really enjoyed it. It’s so unique and different from other scifi books that I’ve read, especially with the way the world ended and how humans ended up where they did and how they evolved, that it appealed to my inner geek. I’m looking forward to exploring this series more and hopefully getting answers to my questions.