Review: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

Grimspace (Sirantha Jax, #1) by Ann Aguirre

Quick Take:
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.

Review:
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

11 comments:

  1. I've had this in my book closet to read for ever! I really really need to get to it! Great review!

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  2. Hello, just dropping by to say hi. :)

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  3. I still have book 2 and 3 to read...should get on that :D

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  4. I'm not really a sf reader (though I love sf shows) for reasons I don't fully understand. Perhaps it's because I have a never ending pile of para and uf that I can't seem to get through? I keep coming back to this review though... and I think this book may be the first to wiggle it's way into my tbr outside my genre. There is something compelling about it so I must check it out.

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  5. @Julie - Thank ye! and Yesyesyes! I think you'll like!! ^_^

    @Tracey - Thanks for stopping by! I dig yer blog...it's off to a great start.

    @Blodeuedd - Nice! I keep hearing the series gets better and better. I'll look forward to your thoughts on book two. Or group read, wooohoo! :o)

    @Nicole - Yeh, SF isn't for everyone...especially the more hardline stuff. This book seems like it'd be very accessible to UF readers...probably because the themes still feel recognizable and identifiable. Hopefully the more SF-ish stuff (the "jumping" and aliens, for instance) is just enough of a push into new territory. If you decide to read it, I hope you enjoy it...and would be interested in your thoughts on it as an infrequent reader of sci-fi.

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  6. I haven't even heard of this book! Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I LOVE SF.

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  7. I WANT this book! :D I've been hearing great things about this series. You know I hadn't heard much about it until just a few months ago, but it sounds like a great read. And I've enjoyed Ann's Corine Soloman series thus far too. Thanks for the amazing review. :)

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  8. Gabby! Rock on. It's a great book for SF lovers...and imo, PERFECT for those who love SF and UF.

    Melissa! Indeed...especially with the later books, people are nuts about it. I kept seeing people's status updates for book 4 (along the lines of "OMG! no way! wow. AMAZING!"), and decided, it was time. :o) Hope you like it, too....I look forward to your thoughts on it WHEN (not if, right?) you read it ^_^

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  9. Yes, I've been hearing the same things on the books. They have really caught my eye now with this last book. And yes, when is right. I will get it one of these days. :D Thank you!

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  10. Why did I already this you'd read this? I would have been poking you to read it sooner. I LOOOOVE Sirantha Jax. This series just keeps getting better and better. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on the rest of the series.

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  11. Y'know Jessica, I had to ask myself that very same question (why did I not read this sooner?!?!). On the flip side, though...there are more books readily available at this time. Only two more longs waits, for books 5 and 6. Silver linings, and all that.

    It's so good to hear that the series keeps getting better...the bar has been set so high after just one book, that it's almost too much to hope for. ^_^

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