Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Review: Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre

By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago… As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she's navigating crash-lands, and she's accused of killing everyone on board. It's hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash. Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper. Jax is only good at one thing—grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime… -Description of Grimspace, By Ann Aguirre Sirantha Jax is a broken woman. As the description says, she possesses a rare gene that allows her to navigate ships through something resembling hyperspace and she is one of the best - and one of the longest surviving - navigators working for the Farawan Corporation. Unfortunately, a crash kills everyone aboard the passenger ship that Jax is navigating including Jax's partner/pilot/lover. Her recovery is hindered by sparse memory of the events, and the actions of the monopolistic Farawan corporation that seems hell bent on pegging the crash on Jax. When former soldier March shows up with a rag tag mercenary space ship crew ready to take Jax away, she has no choice but to accept their offer of employment. Matters are complicated by Jax's odd connection to her savior, cemented by the relationship established during Grimspace between a Jumper and her Pilot. Of course, it doesn't hurt that March is totally hot, and psychic! Frankly, I think half the reason I enjoyed this book was the steamy build-up between Jax and March. After they make their escape from Jax's former employers, they make their way to a frontier planet to meet her new employers. When Jax finally finds out the goal is breaking the Farawan corporations monopoly on Interstellar travel, Jax isn't exactly excited about the prospect, but she is resigned to her fate. Luckily, March is there to make it that much more enticing. Aguirre brilliantly hops the plot through seemingly disparate action sequences that only make sense in the context of the story. Though some instances seem a bit contrived, it's all driven by an ensemble of strong, quirky characters. Occasionally, I was bogged down by the amount of action that the story contained. Aguirre packs a whole hell of a lot of world building and character establishing in the 320 pages - Multiple Alien species, rival families, sinister space stations populated by slave trading smugglers - It's a lot to absorb, but I was completely sucked in by how well Aguirre told her story. What was disappointing about this novel is that it ended - Terribly. Everything was so strong that, up till the last few chapters, I was only disappointed that Aguirre didn't expand her ideas into more than one novel. Then the end hit and it was a huge let down. Everything that Jax and her new friends were working for was relegated to a footnote. I will grant you that my opinion has been slightly changed by the news that Aguirre has written follow up novels, but I think my original opinion is still valid - the story contained in the first book deserves more, and it appears from the description of the second book in the series, Wanderlust, that Aguirre hasn't given certain plot points the attention that I would like. However, don't let that keep you away from Grimspace. It is one of funnest Science Fiction's that I've read in a while and contains one of the best romances I've read in years. You may or may not like it as much as I did, but it's a good start to what is hopefully a strong series (I'll find out as soon as I can get to the bookstore).

6 comments:

SQT said...

Oh heck, I wish I'd known how much you liked this before I put "Wanderlust" up on the giveaway. I use random.org when I pick winners-- and I like to keep contests totally random and honest so I don't know what books are going to go out yet. But if it doesn't go in the contest I'll send it to you.

LoopdiLou said...

Lol! I didn't even know there was a sequel until today, so no loss. That's what the library is for (and Duke with his borders bucks).

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like a combination between Dune and Pitch Black.

LoopdiLou said...

A very watered down version of Dune - but the creatures they have to run from are totally out of pitch black :)

Heather said...

Great review! I enjoyed this book too but I do agree the ending felt rushed, like it was in fast-forward mode. Could be a publisher word count limit thingy, who knows.

shaunesay said...

I enjoyed Grimspace a lot, it seemed like a cross to me between some of Anne McCaffrey's Sci-Fi and Serenity/Firefly. I've got Wanderlust waiting for me on the TBR pile!