Author: Ann Aguire
Published: 2008, Ace
Category: Science Fiction
This book has gotten a lot of buzz online since it came out. It seemed like everyone loved it (for example, an A review at DA), and then I read the AAR review, which gave it a D and tells readers to not read it, it's that bad. Of course that immediately made me dig it out of the TBR, to see how people could have such opposite reactions to the same book.
Sirantha Jax has a special gene that allows her to navigate grimspace, which is (I am science-challenged) some sort of other dimension that allows for faster-than-light travel. So she plugs in while on a ship, and the pilot is then able to jump to far reaches of the galaxy. It's a rare trait and gives her a sort of rock-star status among the corporation that has come to dominate interstellar travel. However, at the start of the novel, things aren't going well at all for Sirantha because on her last journey her ship crashed, killing everyone on board except her. She can't remember what happened, and the people she worked for are telling her it was all her fault. She thinks she's about to be sentenced for the crime when she is rescued by a team of rebels who we soon find out are working against the corporation, which they say is completely corrupt. They want to find a way to train a new independent corp of jumpers.
Okay, that's maybe the first 20 pages of plot. This book starts fast and you have to jump on quick because it doesn't slow down. I think this is the book's best trait--the action is nonstop and exciting. It's told in the first person present tense, which is unusual but works really well to make the story seem fast and immediate. The plot is intricate and the world-building, imo, really interesting.
But for all that, I struggled to get through the book. And the reason is maybe not a very good one, but it's just the way I felt: I couldn't really like any of the characters. I just didn't connect with them--I didn't care if they came to good ends or bad. Sirantha and March (the other main character and Sirantha's love interest) both are so damaged, mentally, emotionally and physically, that I couldn't really see how they'd ever get to a better place and I got really tired of hearing about their sad stories. They are both flawed, which can be a very good thing in a character, but I never felt like they properly redeemed themselves.
And some of the choices they made bothered me. They spend most of the book running around the galaxy in a disjointed effort to bring down the evil corporation, sacrificing the lives of several people in the process, and what do they accomplish? Almost nothing.
My favorite character in the whole book was the bounty hunter who comes on the scene in the last 30 pages and fixes everything. He destroys the corporation simply by using his brain and the power of information--it made Sirantha and March's efforts seem idiotic and ruthlessly and needlessly violent. My other huge problem with the ending is the way March reacts when he thinks Sirantha has been killed. He turns into a terrorist? That's just great. He again shows how unstable he is--it's nice that he's learned to love someone, but I just can't admire a character who is, well, sort of insane.
I am glad I read Grimspace. I tend to stay away from grittier science fiction, just a personal preference that surely is a large part of the reason I didn't really enjoy this book. But I can see why the book appeals to some readers. Everyone is free to disagree with me. ;)