Editorial Review: Life Force Preserve Book 1: Anna and the Resurgent of the Precious Blood by Courtney Leigh Pahlke
Anna is a young woman with the unfortunate luck of being involved in several near-death incidents. However, she soon discovers that the causes of these "accidents" are a lot more sinister than she could ever have imagined.
Life Force Preserve Book 1 opens with the protagonist, Anna, stepping outside to grab her mail and injuring herself after slipping on the ice that covers her porch. Much to her dismay, the fall is bad enough to send Anna to the hospital and undo the months of physical therapy she had to undergo after a severe car accident. The car accident left Anna practically paralyzed for a month in hospital with cervical and lumbar trauma, so she is terrified that her latest slip made things worse. The only silver lining is that Anna miraculously didn't need any surgery, but little did she know that everything is connected.
The first few chapters of Life Force Preserve Book 1 reads like a psychological thriller as readers experience Anna's accident and trauma with her. Her ordeal of getting to the hospital after the slip is harrowing stuff, and the sense of danger is palpable as she begins to notice that she might be watched by shady individuals. Nevertheless, Anna tries to maintain a sense of normalcy for the sake of her best friend, Jessica, and even agrees to a night out a week after her accident. But unfortunately, it is during this outing that she realizes she is not just being paranoid, and some people are really watching her every move.
When Anna finally manages to confront the people that always seem to be in the background of her life, she is shocked to learn their real purpose. At this point, the book pivots into the realm of science fiction with some jaw-dropping revelations. Of course, revealing too much would be a disservice to readers, but as the book blurb states, Anna is part of an endangered bloodline under threat from another invading presence.
Unlike many other books in the genre, Anna is not an action hero and can't simply fight her way out of any dangerous situation. However, she is still a very strong protagonist who endures a lot of physical and emotional turmoil over the course of the story. This makes her more relatable and ensures that the tension and sense of danger rarely let up. Many books with "special" protagonists make them almost impervious to harm, but this is definitely not the case with Anna. The same goes for the people who Anna learns are safeguarding her. They are good at what they do but are not perfect and make mistakes that sometimes cost them dearly.
Most of Life Force Preserve is written from Anna's perspective, which means it features a lot of introspection. The style and tone of the book do change somewhat after the first few chapters when more of the story is revealed and additional characters are introduced. The perspective then also switches to some of these characters as they attempt to safeguard Anna from harm. For the most part, the antagonists remain in the story's periphery, apart from a few very tense encounters that highlight just how high the stakes are. Life Force Preserve does have a few moments of levity, mostly due to the banter between some of the characters, but overall the story retains its tenseness throughout.
Ultimately, Life Force Preserve is a gripping story that is best experienced by going in with as little foreknowledge as possible. It is not the type of story where the heroes are always one step ahead of the villains, and everything always goes smoothly, but this works in its favor. The grittiness and tension draw readers in and keep them engaged right to the end. As this is the first book in the series, everything does not get wrapped up with a neat little bow, but it does set the scene perfectly for other nail-biting stories.