Being Amber
Being Amber by Sylvia Ryan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Eugenics. The science of improving stock and plays an important role in animals. But apply it to humans and wars have been fought over it. But this is the dystopian future that Sylvia Ryan creates in Being Amber. In the near future a particularly virulent disease has wiped out a large portion of the population. By the time it’s over the surviving government, in an effort to preserve certain ‘strains’ in humanity, such as blonde hair, and at the same time ensure that genetic defects are eliminated have instituted repopulation laws.

In Atlanta, one of the few remaining cities in the US, there are three designations that a person can be assigned. Those who are deemed acceptable in that they are intelligent and have no genetic disqualifiers are Emeralds. The crème de la crème are sapphires. But should anyone be found to have faulty genome or other undesirable trait that the ‘Gov’ do not want to be reproduced, they become Amber and are segregated into their own zone and sterilised.

This is what happens to Jaci, a young lady who is removed from her family, home and life in the Emerald section and becomes an Amber due to a genetic fault that she had no idea that she had. Being sterilsed, she’s known as a ‘fallow’ and because of this, is honoured amongst those in the Amber zone, an honour that has come about as a coping and support mechanism. Unfortunately for Jaci, there is someone killing fallows. One of Amber’s own.

Other support mechanisms that have sprouted up as part of being an Amber. Nobody lives alone and single people are assigned a live in companion with whom they share a bed. Physical contact has also become very important to these people and as a result, Ambers are well versed in each other’s bodies and make incredible lovers.

This brings me on to the sex. Being Amber is a highly erotic book. Sex isn’t the focus of the book; that belongs to the great characters and plot but when it happens, the sex is very hot involving toys, light BDSM, F/F and group play. It’s also natural when it happens and is very much part of the story. There is sometimes nothing worse than an out of place sex scene regardless of how steamy it is. It’s telling how good the characterisation is when the death of one character and the betrayal of another affects me as a reader.

It’s apparent that I enjoyed this so why only the four stars? That comes down to Jaci’s live in companion; Xander. He’s a policeman for the Ambers and is keeping a close watch on Jaci whilst investigating the fallow murders along with several others. For approximately three quarters of the book he’s also a dick, in my opinion. At a time when Jaci needs support and honesty from the people closest to her in her new life, he comes up short. A reason is given as to why but it seems more like an excuse to me.

One final point and that is there is epilogue to Being Amber on the author’s site at http://www.ryanbooks.net/ which I found to be bittersweet. This may or may not spoil the enjoyment of the ending of Being Amber. Given that I don’t normally read dystopian stories because I like my future to be all shiny and rosy, I’m glad that this was recommended and will be awaiting the next book in the New Atlanta series; Being Sapphire due in 2014.

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