Monday 14 April 2008

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

First off I feel I have to apologize, because I read this during the worst of my flu, and I don't think I did it justice. So it's very possible on any other day it would have got an A.

This is the Kelley Armstrong book for June I think. I know because I'm the one who nominated it. This is the other reason I think I may have been more harsh than usual. Do you ever get that, when you anticipate a book so much to the point where you're almost rabid to get it. Then when you do it's not quite what you thought - of course this could also be a side effect of my flu. So at some point (probably before I get book 2 or June) I will have to read Grimspace again. At which point I will probably appreciate it much more, and I will post accordingly.

On with the review.

Sirantha Jax is the carrier of a rare gene, which gives her the ability to jump ships through grimspace. This talent shortens her life expectancy but allows her to work as a navigator for the Corp, who can then provide Interstellar travel to the paying customer. When the ship she's navigating crashes, Jax is imprisoned and interrogated. But she has no memory of the crash. When March breaks into her cell and offers to help her, she accepts his offer, because she really has no place left to go. But the Corp aren't going to let her go that easily.

I've read in several reviews that Grimspace has been compared to Firefly and Serenity (and I'd add a little Pitch Black), and I think that's a good comparison. If you like those shows I see no reason why you wouldn't like this book. It's full of quotable dialogue, action set pieces and quite a bit of running about.

If I had a problem it was that for my flu-addled brain it didn't quite hang together. The story is well written and engaging, but at certain points I couldn't always follow what was going on.

The other problem (which is kind of tied to the first problem) I had was with it being written in first person point of view (POV). Now I read a lot of Urban Fantasy so it's not the actual first person that's the problem. But there are so many characters coming in and out of scenes, as soon as they leave the POV's sphere of influence you don't get to find out what happened to them, it left me feeling like there were gaps in the story. Plus I don't think I quite got to know Jax as well as I could have. So I hope maybe in a future book Ann Aguirre would go back and tie up those loose ends.

On the positive side, there was much more that I liked about the story.

  • It's original. It read much more like Urban Fantasy in space, than space opera. So definitely one I'd recommend for UF fans looking for something a little different.
  • It's absolutely chockful of quotable dialogue. And regular visitors to the blog will know how much I love quotable dialogue.
    "It occurs to me that, for the sake of symmetry, I should probably kill him."

    "For this "reconnaissance" mission - although the chances are he'll do no more than fact-find are slim - the choices are an alien who can't fight, a geneticist who won't fight, a scholar who would piss his pants in a fight, and Dina, who's in charge of acquiring supplies."
  • It's written realistically. When Jax has to fly the ship when she's never flown before, she doesn't suddenly become an ace pilot. She just about manages to steer in a straight line. (Okay, not even that).
  • Things go wrong. It's gritty and real. These are not people who never make mistakes. They are people who make mistakes and have to deal with consequences and move on.
  • As noted in the above quote, I like that each member of the crew is an individual. They each have their own history and their own reason for being there. I hope in future books we find out even more about them.
There is a romantic subplot between Jax and March, but it is pretty crammed in between the adventuring. What helps suspend your belief about the intensity of their feelings is that as pilot and navigator when they jump their thoughts merge together. There's a level of trust there that allows you to believe they could fall for each other that fast.

So overall I really enjoyed the story. And I think a re-read would probably help iron out my quibbles. I am looking forward to the next book Wanderlust and will be getting it, when it's released in August. And I'm pleased to read on Ann Aguirre's website that books 3 and 4 of the series are contracted. So we have much more Jax to look forward to.


Nicole said...

It's always good to see your opinions on books I want to read. You seem to have very similar opinions to mine on books, and I like having the extra set of eyes, so to speak.

I am looking forward to this one, partly because of the "more UF than space opera" comment. Hopefully I'll get to it in time for the book club - though with my reading schedule all over the map the way it has been, there's no way to be sure.

Anonymous said...

Funny I should visit today since I'm in the middle of writing up my review for Grimspace as well. It's not a straight A with me either and I didn't have the flu to muddle me up. On the other hand though I really enjoyed it. I'm having a hard time putting the why's of it all into my review though.

I enjoyed your review though. Good job. :)

Anonymous said...

I keep finding this review and promising myself that I'll read it. I just haven't made it that far. When does the second book come out? Maybe I'll wait until closer to that release date and get both.

LesleyW said...

Nicole - You've got a couple of months yet, so look forward to hearing your thoughts on the bookclub thread. :)

Kmont - Maybe it wasn't just the flu then? Looking forward to reading your review.

Scooper - Second book is out in August.

Naomi said...

I finished this a couple of days ago. For me this was an odd book. When I was reading it, I loved it, got really into it. But when I put it down, I didn't think about it. I didn't feel that urge to pick it up and start reading again.

I think I will follow the series, because the ideas did fsacinate me, but I don't think it will make my auto-buy list.