In our universe, a Cardassian sleeper agent called Iliana Ghemor was once surgically alltered to resemble and replace Bajoran resistance fighter Kira Nerys. That plan never reached fruition, and the fate of the agent remained unknown -- until now. Robbed of the past sixteen years and on the brink of madness, Iliana Ghemor is back with a vengeance. She has already made one attempt on the real Kira's life, and now the Deep Space 9 crew must somehow must stop the false Kira without derailing the delicate flow of history that must unfold if two universes, and countless others, are to survive.
Olivia Woods lives in New York. This is her first Star Trek novel.
In my opinion, the negative reviews this book is getting are based solely on the fact that it didn't give people what they wanted. They expected Fearful Symmetry to continue the action of Warpath, to provide confrontation and lots of plot twists. I can see why they're disappointed, but I also think there's a ton of great stuff going on with this book. Keep an open mind, and you'll enjoy it.
Where Warpath was all about action and drama, Fearful Symmetry slows down and really lets the characters shine. Sisko's scene at the beginning of side 1 gives the purpose in a nutshell: to look at the possibilities and paths things might take. All of the characters get their screen time, even the minor ones. Olivia Woods has them all down pat, and does an excellent job of making you want to know what happens to them next. I'm sad that I have to wait another year for The Soul Key and The Never Ending Sacrifice (August and September 2009), but now I want to read them more than ever.
As for Iliana's story, yes, it's brutal. But it's not graphic...Woods doesn't get into detail for the brutal parts. What she does achieve, however, is to make Iliana Ghemor into a deep, sympathetic villain. I almost find myself rooting for her after reading her story. And the way the two sides of the flipbook intersect is brilliant. Just make sure you read side 1 first.
I would give the book five stars if it were longer. If Pocketbooks were serious about keeping these stories going, they should get them out more often. Otherwise, they're going to lose readers who are tired of waiting.
The good - I really enjoyed the writing. I'm not familiar with Olivia Woods, but I thought she had a pretty good handle on the characters and the story flowed fairly well.
Part one followed up nicely on the events in Warpath, but as others have noted, the story is much too short. I wanted more.
Part two follows Iliana Ghemor's journey from artist to member of the Obsidian Order to Kira's replacement. This part of the book has a major hurdle to overcome, because as other reviewers have noted, most of us want more of the main story, not Iliana's origin. So it was hard to start this side without a negative attitude, but the more I got into the story, the more I enjoyed it. It's a good look at the cruelty of Dukat and why Iliana wasn't subsituted for Kira (although that is actually also answered in the first part, but explored in more detail here). It's also a good behind the scenes look at Cardassian policies and politics.
The Bad: It's been a long wait to only get 130 pages or so of the main story. And according to the psiphiboards, it will be a long wait until we get the follow up novels "The Soul Key" and "The Never-Ending Sacrifice," which won't come out until August and September 2009.
Overall: Short, but good, and a must read if you're a fan of the DS9 novels.
That feeling of desperation...2015/6/2
(sigh) This book... this book... where to begin? Well, first of all, the reason I read it is that I'm working my way through all of the DS9 reboots to prep for the newest book this year. Even though it's obviously several years after this one was published, I'm leaving a review for a reason. I'm not sure how well the entire Ileana storyline has ever worked-- it's a fascinating idea, and *Second Skin* might very well have been the biggest example of a DS9 episode that left the most questions hanging. What really happened to Ileana Ghemor? How could we have never heard about her again? But like so many of those questions, this one does get answered in the books. Kind of.
The problem is the type of answer that it turns out to be. The entire storyline (through three books now, I think,) feels too much like a great idea that didn't have enough steam to back it up, like it's been stretched too far and there's still no end in sight. The other parts of the storyline have so much more promise (the nature and choices of Taran'atar, the Progenitor situation with the Dominion, etc.), but the Ileana story is the key to it all, and that story just is too thin to hold it all up. I wasn't bothered by the "double book" format as much as a lot of other readers were; my problem was that there wasn't enough content in the key to the plot to keep either side of the book going. I don't think this was the author's fault-- Olivia Woods could only work with what she'd been given.
And that's why the violence and sex in the second part of this book just didn't work, and why, I think, so many people have found it disturbing. It doesn't feel organic or justified by the situation. The reader feels that it was kind of thrown in out of desperation,. And... (okay, a little bit of a spoiler here...) Dukat has always been a fascinating character, both in the TV series and the books. He's a person who could have chosen good-- or at least neutrality-- and instead chose evil. In this book, he's turned into a cartoon villain. It's very disappointing, and I think I'm going to have to end up pretending that most of this entire storyline didn't exist.
Overall, you might have to read this in order to continue the plotline from the other books, but at least you've been warned. There's a reason why this book does not show up as a verified purchase-- it's the first Kindle book I've EVER returned. Caveat emptor.
SIDE 1 great, SIDE 2 problematic2014/10/17
"Fearful Symmetry" starts strong - (aside from epilogue) it picks up right where action-packed "Warpath" left off. Which is GREAT. Most of the books in the "DS9 Relaunch" series take their sweet time introducing new characters and new plots before they continue the story from the previous book, so I was thrilled that "Fearfull Symmetry" broke that habit.
SIDE 1 takes place on Deep Space Nine. We follow Kira as she tries to recover from her injuries, tries to solve this new crisis with the mirror universe, tries to rediscover secrets from her past, and generally tries to handle too many things at once. In the same time, Ro is facing the true meaning of her injuries, Sisko's facing a new task from the prophets, and mirror Iliana Ghemor is trying to convince DS9 crew to help her universe. It's well written, it's interesting, I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it.
SIDE 2 tells us all about the life of Iliana Ghemor. It takes us back to her childhood, her family, her friends and enemies and lovers, and eventually - her career in the Obsidian Order. Everything that led up to that famous incident in the episode "Second Skin". I thought it was a great story.
But then.... The book goes on to tell us about what happened to Iliana after "Second Skin". And that part of the story is dark, twisted, disturbing, disgusting. It's not something you see in Star Trek. I suppose that I understand why the author wanted to put the character through all this hardship: so we would understand why she turned out the way she did. But what can I say? I hated that the story has taken this turn. I felt it was too much. I left the book and it took me a while to pick it up again. And after that, I wasn't even sure I wanted to read the next book in the series.
So... To summarize - it's a good book, well written, interesting, for the most part. In my opinion the second half of SIDE 2 was bad. If it wasn't for that I would have given the book 5 stars.
Years after Kira's surgical alteration by the Obsidian Order to resemble Iliana Ghemor, the implications of that mission resurface as Iliana is back, but there are two identities conflicting in her. Likewise, Kira's Mirror universe counterpart is dead thanks to Iliana, and the Mirror Iliana has crossed over to stop her. The undercover mission that Iliana was initiated, but something went tragically wrong. Something that only becomes apparent after reading Fearful Symmetry.
It was worth the wait and far too compelling at times to put down.