The Soulmate Prophecy: Book One - The Birth
by Yasmina Haque
Dorrance Publishing Co. Inc.

"I don’t know who she is and I don’t want to believe that I’m desperate for an imaginary girl."

Everyone in this first volume of the author’s trilogy needs a change of pace. Lovelin Khan, a bestselling romance author, is bored with beautiful northern Michigan and is hitting the proverbial wall with writer’s block. Dr. Kaelyn Stonebridge, a brilliant research scientist, has spent his life in an underwater facility and is devoted to his work of perfecting genetically enhanced plants and animals. Born worlds apart, the contemporary characters gradually connect through Laila and Khale, strange and inseparable twins born to Maya and Amir, a couple betrothed at birth in ancient Egypt and eager to marry and carry on with their conjugal life. For their part, Laila and Khale cannot stand to be separated for more than a few hours at a time.

This ambitious cross-genre novel shares some quirky themes and characterizations similar to Margaret Atwood’s MaddAddam Trilogy. It is shaken with a dash of the earnestness of Ursula K. Le Guin, a bit of movement through time similar to David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, and some visuals worthy of a Disney animation fantasy, but it never quite reaches the equivalent altitude in the speculative fiction stratosphere. The rotating first-person viewpoints are easily followed, but the voice isn’t always distinct in each sequence despite the vast differences in character and setting. On the other hand, these distinct settings and some unique motifs in each story thread serve as the gravitational force that propels the story forward while also providing sensory grounding. Now and then, the writing feels uneven, and this makes reading less pleasurable until the prose smooths out again.

The novel is rich with detail, and while this brings the settings to radiant life, the narrative pacing and actual character development is occasionally encumbered by the clutter of character ruminations and self-conscious descriptions of objects and surroundings, especially in the viewpoint of Lovelin, an airy materialist with a voracious appetite for trendy accommodations, designer fashion, and first-class travel arrangements. She suffers writer’s block and is planning an exotic vacation to rejuvenate her creativity and perhaps to kindle an equally exotic romance. Returning to Kaelyn’s introversion and his immersion in beneficial genetic experiments with plants and animals in the underground rainforest is sometimes a relief after negotiating the whirlwind of Lovelin’s extroverted mind. He too desires to embark upon an adventure because he’s never lived outside the top-secret Zenith Underground facility, a setting that feels mundane to Kaelyn but exotic to readers. Laila and Khale stand out as the most intriguing characters, perhaps because it’s unclear how they connect to Lovelin and Kaelyn (except for visions Kaelyn has of a dark-haired woman throughout the tale), but also because the fourteenth-century BCE setting, though also exotic, is more earthy and basic, less fraught with the minutiae of Haque’s modern and futuristic settings.

The story pacing and suspense are good otherwise, and the tale remains alluring throughout even if the direction seems a bit elusive at first. As the first novel in a trilogy, this book exists more like an entryway into the greater story rather than as a standalone—an observation made clear as the story races toward the cliffhanger conclusion. Even so, readers will find this unique melding of sci-fi, thriller, and historical romance intriguing and evocative, worthy of the time invested in exploring the worlds created here.

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