Barely Human – A solid debut effort from Trace Riles
To my knowledge, Barely Human is the first Urban Fantasy novel by Trace Riles. We’re introduced to Jessie, a police detective with a strange ability to teleport or “flicker” practically anywhere at any time. She can’t control this ability and it’s getting worse day by day, making it impossible to keep it a secret any longer. While it also seemingly affects her murder investigation for a high school student, it actually turns out that this murder is key to her finally realizing what she is and what else is out there. The high school student is just the first victim of a serial killing maniacal demon, and Jessie and her partner have to team up with other unsuspecting supernaturals to stop his rampage. From there we’re introduced to a world of demons, vampires, werewolves, necromancers, witches and more.
The book is pretty good. The cover is kind of cheesy and leaves a lot of be desired from a few design aspects (though my pickiness could just be due to my graphic design experience), but the story itself is overall fairly interesting. Based on the pace of the book, I was actually expecting it to be the start of a series, but for now it seems to be a standalone.
A lot of elements felt like your typical Urban Fantasy fanfare without a twist that was unique or fresh enough. While Jessie is the central character, this book does reflect POVs of other characters in every chapter. I usually don’t like this approach, but I didn’t mind it here because I felt like it helped the main storyline progress for the most part. So overall, I think Riles handled that part well. Though without follow up books I think a good deal of the development will be wasted, so it will be interesting to see if that happens.
Some perspectives were more interesting than others, but honestly the character that stood out to me most was the villain, Karl. I think it was a gutsy move to use his perspective because we really got into the mind of a maniac. The scariest thing about a psychotic individual is that the person believes he or she is normal. Jessie proves that you can be a monster without being an evil monster if you know what I mean.
So while I’m not sure if there’s a lot more in store for Jessie’s world, I must say that for a first novel I definitely think Riles shows a lot of potential. I didn’t really fall in love with the characters so I wouldn’t mind if she moved onto something else, but I feel as if Riles has creativity that can evolve.
*ARC provided by the author