Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Grimspace, Ann Aguirre

Title: Grimspace
Author: Ann Aguire
Published: 2008, Ace
Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5.5/10

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. ;)


nath said...

LOL, not me. Me totally agree with you! I'm glad I'm not the only one around who didn't enjoy it though.

Anonymous said...

I did enjoy it - actually liked Jax a lot.
As I said in the AAR thread, the personal story worked for me, but the political background left me with questions - which might be answered later in the series. I thought the rebels' plan was both immoral and unworkable, but because the reader only sees it through Jax, you can't know if there's more to it than she understands.
Made me think, anyway, which I like in a book.

(Just finished Passage: my favourite in that series.)

Jennie said...

Nath--I'm glad I'm not the only one--I tried to like it. I don't at all think it was a bad book, it's just one that didn't really appeal to me.

Marianne--Their plan did not seem very well thought out--but you're right, it's quite possible the author has plans for future books that will flesh it all out. I definitely had some problems with the ethical implications of what they're doing. I probably won't read the sequel, but I'll be interested to hear others talk about what happens in the second book.

Re: Passages--I'm really excited to start it, but Grimspace sort of burnt me out for science fiction. I'm reading a Heyer, which will clean the palate nicely for Bujold. ;)

Brie said...

With all of the positive reviews out there, I've been tempted to pick this one up. I just haven't been sure if I could get into the first person present tense that it's written in.

Your review has me thinking that it's probably better if I pass it up (for now). The characters don't sound intriguing enough for me to try to adjust to the tense of the book.

Anonymous said...

I think Grimspace is a book you either love or hate. I actually liked the moral ambiguity - I liked reading about characters who didn't necessarily care about the greater good. I think she left quite a few open questions for the sequel though.

Jennie said...

Brie--The POV didn't bother me at all--really you hardly notice it after a while. I do think it's a book that's not right for everyone, though sometimes it's hard to tell from reading a review whether it'll work for you.

Li--I didn't hate it. I just didn't really enjoy it. But the moral ambiguity did bother me--I like characters that are realistic, but they generally have to be a bit more admirable for me to really enjoy reading about them.

sandy l said...

I started this book and then put it down. The world reminded me a lot of Firefly. I kept expecting Malcolm Reynolds to walk in.

I may try it again later. It wasn't badly written, I just wasn't in the mood.

Jennie said...

Sandy--I've never heard of Firefly. I've just been to Amazon and seen it's a TV show! I'm so out of it. ;) But the blurb there goes on about a ship full of galactic misfits, which does sound like Grimspace!

I did think this book was well written, just not my kind of book. Lots of people love it, so you should probably give it a shot at least. :)

CindyS said...

I like dark characters so this might work for me. Firefly only lasted 1/2 a season and then there was the movie Serenity. Loved them!


Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh, I reviewed Grimspace awhile ago on my own blog, and I thought pretty much the exact same thing as you, including the part about the bounty hunter being a great character!