Soteria by Roberto Arcoleo

A pair of twins is sent from a far off world to experience humanity and Earth’s culture circa 1960s NYC. But their mission also involves saving our world from a comet that is blazing its way across galaxies on a collision course with the planet. Arriving from the Eldern system, Mark and Jason have only experienced the hive-thinking society of their own people and to be free of this on Earth is a shocking jolt to the system. Jason immerses himself in the music scene and Mark is an intellectual who is studying in the physics department at NYU. They are alone in the experiences at first as they are not strong enough to share time outside of the portal to their planet at the same time, and have to take 12 hour shifts until their strength is built up. 

The twins are emissaries with advanced abilities that enable them to influence people in creative ways. Mark wants to feel the all the emotions and truly experience humankind but is confused with his strong attraction to women, his advisor’s wife in particular. His anxiety is such that he feels compelled to see a psychologist to help with his emerging feelings. Jason hangs with a far-out crew who look for their own outer space in drugs, and are good enough musicians to play with the likes of The Velvet Underground and Dylan. And he’s chosen a protege to help, even expanding her mind into an influencer herself…

Soteria contains a plot woven by new experiences by visitors from a distant and challenging bureaucracy itself. They don’t want to attract too much attention, but there may be no way that can happen… Mark and Jason will have to combine their talents to help save the earth, but will their own wants and needs, and the Eldern’s leadership’s greed get in the way?

First of all, there’s a lot of sex in this book, and some of it R-rated. Just a word of warning… If this is something that you’re ok with, these are some very intriguing characters who are placed in a precarious situation. They are thrown from group-think to as the psychologist says, (I paraphrase) an immediate adolescent. It’s a discovery of cultures, sexuality, and a different way of living and feeling. I was definitely more excited about the possibilities as I kept reading. The description of the change of their characters is well done, and as the first book in the series, Mark and Jason present themselves as two who will be able to hold several books.

I have a few criticisms…  The pace of the plot oscillates between raw bliss and heavy deliberations, but what is always there is a contemplation on the human experience. I also thought the ramp up to the finals chapters didn’t really have that tension that it needed to propel itself to the second book. 

Read this book for a blistering take on the alien infiltration trope. While there might be a few low points, the overall experience is one of deep thought and a cool take on the late 60s in Manhattan.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Thank you to Chandra Press and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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