Saturday, December 10, 2011

Grimspace, by Ann Aguirre

Romantic science fiction: I approve!

I found this one through Goodreads, on Felicia Day's bookshelves; her book preferences have a decent-sized overlap with mine, and she writes a lot of intelligent reviews, so she's been a good bookhunting source so far.

"Grimspace" is this universe's FTL mechanism; traveling it requires both a pilot and a navigator, jacked into each other's brains for the duration of the trip. Because of this intimate interface, pilots and navigators bond strongly enough that they often become lovers. Only people in possession of a certain rare gene can be a navigator, and navigating grimspace will eventually kill you. There's only one company you can work for, as a navigator; they have a fairly solid monopoly on the training and the ships.

We're introduced to Sirantha Jax, a Grimspace navigator, in the aftermath of a major crash that killed her pilot/lover, Kai - a crash she's suspected of causing. She's not what you'd call mentally stable, these days.

March, the guy who shows up to rescue her from her accusers, also has his share of Issues. As noted in previous posts, I prefer nice guys as the love interest; this, he is not, but I give him a pass because he actually has a reason for being the dark and brooding type. He's a telepath, and telepathy tends to drive people crazy. He's not a misunderstood rogue with a secret heart of gold; he's a dude who has done some genuinely bad things in the past, and is actively trying to be a better, saner person. I consider this a more interesting take on the bad-boy template.*

I like that both of them are broken in their own ways, struggling to hold themselves together, reaching out to offer each other support, but sometimes failing themselves and each other. I like that Kai still haunts Jax, and has a major influence on the development of the Jax/March relationship; he isn't just some throwaway plot device. I like some of the secondary characters a lot; pretty much everyone has their own distinctive personality, their own internal consistency to their behavior. (Though it was a bit hard to follow the doctor, at some points, for reasons that make sense later.)

It's not perfect; the plot takes an off-topic detour midway through the book, and then gets wrapped up very quickly at the end. In both cases, the events seem to serve the purpose of developing characters rather than story arc; since I was most interested in the characters anyway, I'm not overly bothered by this. Also, maybe there's an overarching series goal those apparently-out-of-place events are working towards. Benefit of the doubt.

We'll see how I feel about it after reading more; I've picked up the second and third already, despite my self-imposed rule on not buying Kindle books till just before reading. I call imminent childbirth an extenuating circumstance that validates a little stocking up.

I am a little sad to not be launching into the second one right away - but I got the library notice that it's my turn for The Tiger's Wife, and there's only a two-week loan on that, so it's next up.

* Though superficially they sound similar, I do not consider vampire romances to be interesting in this way - I feel like the whole concept of a hot vampire is loaded with Abusive Husband. The subtext is chock full of he can change, and your love will bring him back to his humanity, and you're in no danger from him as long as you don't tempt him with that soft, tender flesh of your lovely neck. If he fails to keep it together, the consequences are limited to you and him and your little "love bite", which you can hide from the world with turtlenecks and lies, and tell yourself it was your fault to begin with. I think romanticizing this is very, very creepy.

No comments:

Post a Comment