Monday, November 24, 2008

GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre - Final Review

Grimspace was a surprise for me in many ways. One, I expected it to be gritty, but pleasantly, it was not. Two, I never expected heroism. Three, after the heroism, I never expected selfishness. The novel certainly took me in places I had no idea I would go.

To recap, Jax is a navigator through grimspace, one of a very few with the elusive "j-gene" that allows one to navigate grimspace. She is an emotional wreck following an accident where she lost her pilot, who was also her lover and her dearest friend. She currently on a space station and is going through dream therapy, which appears to be doing more harm than good. She cannot leave her room without an escort.

When March appears in her room, offering a way out, she takes it. They escape from the station and go to an off-the-beaten-path planet, where Jax learns that March hopes to help establish an independent school for grimspace navigators--one unafilliated with the sinister and powerful Corp. Their plan involves something that I thought was unethical. Jax had her doubts as well, but she knows that the Corp is doing other things that are just as unethical if not more so, so she goes along.

Then the plot started taking turns that I never expected. In the interests of not giving too much away, I'll just throw up some highlights. We have an alien baby, a pirate space station, ghastly human experimentation, an all too easy escape, and an alien bounty hunter with a . . . but no, that would give too much away.

The plot tends to be episodic, jumping from objective to objective. It reads something like The Adventures of Jax. In some places you will love Jax, and in other places you might be thinking, "Why the HECK is she doing that?" Sometimes I thought the plot was a bit convienient for storytelling purposes. Their first escape was way too easy, and it would have been better if it had been a bit more desperate. The author seemed to think the escape was too easy as well, because she threw in a line about lax guards. Other plot turns seemed convenient as well, but I won't belabor the point. Jax and her friends faced plenty of challenges to make up for it.

Overall, I really enjoyed it. It had characters with consciences, emotional consequences for jumping in bed too early, heroism, both sung and unsung, betrayals, clever deceptions, people willing to die for their cause and the formation of unlikely friendships. I loved it that the ship doctor was the strong guy, and that the ship's mechanic was a woman with a past you would NEVER expect. I also didn't expect there to be an alien on the ship, nor did I suspect the alien's eventual relationship with Jax. I did like the way she resolved it, however. And I liked the way the novel ended. It resolved much more than I expected--the novel could stand alone except for a tiny teaser that is probably explored in future books.

I just looked at the blurb from Wanderlust, the next book in the series. I wondered where the author could possibly take the series from here, but it looks just as good as Grimspace.

Fans of science fiction romance, this is one you need to read.

GRIMSPACE (Amazon US, UK, Canada)
Ann Aguirre (website, blog)
Ace Books
Mass Market Paperback


SciFiGuy said...

Great review Tia. This has been languishing in my TBR pile. The SciFiGuy never seems to get around to his scifi.

Tia Nevitt said...

Better get busy, or we'll start calling you UrbFanGuy. (Ugh--that doesn't even sound right.)