Pulse: Book One of the Zoya – Entered in 2017 ATAI Book Award Contest

5 Stars

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Kate Sander

Pulse by Kate Sander is a fantasy novel that offers everything from bloody battles to slow kindred romance. Through alternating narratives, the ultimate battle between the Melanthios and the cruel New King of Languado takes place, and readers are treated to a fully fleshed out world where power struggles take center stage, and strong-willed characters refuse to be stopped. 

Sander is not overly descriptive in her writing and yet her characters and the world slowly take form over the course of the novel. The inclusion of strong female characters in Queen Anita, Senka, and the tortuous Intelligence is refreshing, and Sander does not shy away from giving them vulnerabilities. There are well-choreographed battle scenes, quiet moments between lovers and the well-placed plot twists that will keep readers engaged. Senke is particularly interesting and—although she is mute due to torture—she is a remarkable character who is both protector and natural-born fighter. All of these features team up with clean prose, straightforward language and Sander’s ability to tell a good story. 

The one minor problem with Pulse is the alternative “coma narrative.”  The style reduces a phenomenal story to a clichéd “dream “plot, which in turn diminishes the power of the story. However, this is the first book in a series, and the twist at the end does encourage the reader to wonder how the coma patients Lizzie and Charles are connected to the world of Languado.

Overall, Pulse is a well-written story that deserves praise. It is full of seemingly-real characters, intrigue and back stabbing. Sander has written a great novel that is comparable to the action and strength of the Game of Thrones and Hunger Games series but stands on its own for its creativity and execution. 

Originally critiqued by a member of the Authors Talk About It team.

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