(Cover picture courtesy of Goodreads.)
If there is one thing that seventeen-year-old Rain knows and knows well, it is survival. Caring for her little brother, Walker, who is “Touched,” and losing the rest of her family to the same disease, Rain has long had to fend for herself on the bleak, dangerous streets of Earth City. When she looks to the stars, Rain sees escape and the only possible cure for Walker. And when a darkly handsome and mysterious captain named Johnny offers her passage to the Edge, Rain immediately boards his spaceship. Her only price: her “willingness.”
The Void cloaks many secrets, and Rain quickly discovers that Johnny’s ship serves as host for an underground slave trade for the Touched . . . and a prostitution ring for Johnny’s girls. With hair as red as the bracelet that indicates her status on the ship, the feeling of being a marked target is not helpful in Rain’s quest to escape. Even worse, Rain is unsure if she will be able to pay the costs of love, family, hope, and self-preservation.
With intergalactic twists and turns, Cori McCarthy’s debut space thriller exists in an orbit of its own.
I found The Color of Rain on one of the blogs I read regularly, Books Without Any Pictures. Grace’s description along with the cover interested me so much that I went out and bought the book. Would it live up to my expectations?
Yes! In fact, Cori McCarthy’s novel actually surpassed my expectations. For a YA novel (albeit strongly recommended for older young adults) it tackles some pretty heavy issues including rape, abuse, prostitution and trauma. Many authors have found their banes in these issues, but Cori McCarthy tackled them head on without really preaching to her audience. No, she presents these issues within the story and allows readers to infer a lot of the effects on poor Rain through her thoughts and actions.
Rain is an interesting character to say the least. She will do anything, literally anything, to save the life of her brother, who is “Touched” and likely to die without treatment. This anything includes prostitution aboard the ship of Johnny Vale, who has taken a personal interest in Rain because she is a natural redhead. Every girl on the ship has a bracelet and their colour denotes their position (yellow for all crew members, green for higher ups, etc.), but Rain is given a red bracelet as part of her being Johnny’s favourite, a dubious honour.
Johnny is quite the villain, doing everything from playing mind games to literally torturing Rain and those she loves. He’s callous and ambitious, a dangerous combination for those around him, especially Rain and his assistant, Ben the Mec (a human with mechanical enhancements). It’s a testament to Cori McCarthy’s writing talent that the decisions Johnny forces Rain to make don’t make readers hate her but rather send home the message about abuse.
I wouldn’t call The Color of Rain fast-paced in terms of action, but there was a lot of character development and inner conflict that I had to keep going to find out what happened. And just when I thought I knew what the ending was going to be, Cori McCarthy threw in a huge, horrifying twist. Obviously she’s not one of these writers that babies her characters, which made me love her debut novel even more.
I give this book 5/5 stars.