Review: Grimspace – Ann Aguirre

  • Title: Grimspace
  • Author: Ann Aguirre
  • Genre: Science Fiction
  • Why: Stumbled across it and thought I’d give it a try.
  • Rating: 3 Stars

Description: By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…

As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.

Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.

Jax is only good at one thing—grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime…

Review: I’m a bit in two minds about this book. It was a very easy read, quick and effortless, but I’m still not entirely sure whether I liked it. I didn’t dislike it as such, but it wasn’t a book with which I’m likely to become bosom buddies and give it pride of place on my (virtual) bookshelf.

Let’s start with the plot. The book centres on Sirantha Jax, a woman with the so-called J-gene which allows her to navigate through Grimspace, which allows interstellar travel. Such navigators are called Jumpers, and the one thing they know for certain is that they will die young, because the more you travel through Grimspace, the likelier you are to burn out on it. Not that this stops them, because Grimspace will always keep calling them back, like a drug habit that’s impossible to kick.

At the start of the book, however, Jax is in solitary confinement at the behest of her employers, the Corp, because her last trip ended in a disaster that crashed the ship she was navigating for, and she is the sole survivor. Among the victims of the crash was Kai, Jax’s pilot and lover, and she is struggling with both his loss as well as the weird mind games the Corps medics subject her to. So far so intriguing.

One problem I had here was entirely due to my own weird little quirks. I have a thing for men called Kai (for reasons I won’t go into), so I found it very difficult to be introduced to a character called Kai who is dead, knowing that all I’d ever find out about him would be filtered through the eyes of a woman grieving for his death. It got even worse when Jax got a new love interest later on. Irrational on my part, certainly, but nothing I was able to change.

Jax is rescued, and the rest of the book then turns into a series of trips to different places, for various reasons that are too convoluted to sum up quickly. It all started off a bit chaotic, with neither Jax nor the reader having a clue what was going on, and it got to the point where I found it all confusingly frustrating. Jax spends most of the book reacting to things or being dragged along in the wake of others, and while the end of the book made sense in relation to the overall goings-on, I never got the idea that any of it was anything to do with any decision Jax had made. She was simply the centre of the intrigue, a figurehead almost, or something to hang the plot on.

All that would have not been much of an issue if I actually liked her, but here too I’m very much on the fence. I don’t think I dislike her, and her grief for Kai and her confusion about her situation I empathise with, but she spends most of her time in the book being abrasive, egotistical, stubborn, thoughtless and antagonistic, with any kindness on her part often almost done as an afterthought.

With all the above you’d be forgiven for thinking I hated the book, but I really didn’t, and I want to read the second book in this series to see where it goes from here. This was Ann Aguirre’s debut novel, and those are often a bit shaky, so I’ll definitely give it another try. As far as this one’s concerned though, I think the best way to sum it up is ‘meh’.

Originally published on Silk Screen Views: http://silkscreenviews.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/grimspace-ann-aguirre-2/

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