Yessir, now THIS is what I call a supremely entertaining SF/F romp. The story is intimate character-wise, yet epic plot-wise. The relatively unusual 1st-person-present was used to excellent effect, and resulted in a close connection with the protagonist. An excellent series start.
Book Description (from GoodReads):
As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her...for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.
I've got to make a confession. Though historically science fiction has been one of my favorite genres (and my longtime co-favorite book is evidence of that), I've read embarassingly few (read: next to zero) such books in the last few years. I can't even begin to fathom why. But this first installment in the Sirantha Jax series is quickly reminding me what I loved so much about the limitless--and imminently enjoyable--possibilities that sci-fi can offer.
I'm not going to lie; I was a bit hesitant about reading this book when I realized that the narration is carried out in first-person-present. There's nothing inherently bad about that particular narrative mode, but it's just so rare (in the UF/SF/F books I read, anyway) as to feel…weird. Indeed, it took some getting used to but eventually melted into the background, especially after the first few scenes; after a while I honestly didn't think about it.
…but whilst on the subject of "those first few scenes" (the first 15%, I'd say): they were fast and furious. Really frenetic. There was a lot of specialized jargon thrown in (though most was easy enough to deduce); characters or themes introduced without explanation. It took a little while for me to not feel lost in the world created. Of course, that could have been the intention, given the random and confusing predicament the protagonist Sirantha Jax finds her self in at book's beginning...so who knows.
The overall story is exceedingly episodic. This lends well to putting the book down at appropriate "breaks" in storytelling; that is, if you manage to put it down at all! I supremely enjoyed this aspect of the book; the tone, pace and circumstance all fluctuate throughout but masterfully, avoiding tediousness.
Finally, I've got to give props to Ms. Aguirre's excellent balance of character development and epic storytelling. A lot happens in this book, yet it's not overwhelming. Likewise, the characters' growth is real and believable, and treated with such care that I fell in love with the entire cast…bit players and main characters alike.
I thank the stars--but mostly Ann Aguirre--that there remain three more published books to read, with two additional ones to follow over the next year or so. An imaginative, wild and special series has been created here, and I'd recommend it to any UF-diehards looking to explore "the other half" of the SF/F classification. ^_^
Rating: 4.5 of 5 stars