I was at the library two weeks ago picking up a book for school, and I decided that I was going to take advantage of the library services (ie. borrowing books for free.) I've been working at a book store for the past 3 1/2 years, so I've fallen into the habit of buying any book that interests me, when, really, I could be saving money by just utilizing the library. Well, I've heard great things about this little book over at calico_reaction, so I thought "Why not?" It's a nice short little book and I was sure I could fit it into my crazy reading schedule. I'm glad I decided to pick this little gem up, because it's exactly what I expected it to be: a fun, fast, and enjoyable science fiction novel with a good dose of romance.
The first thing that really struck me about this book was the narration: we get a first-person POV from the main character Sirantha Jax. She's a feisty lady who can hold her own and has a penchant for swearing. Jax's voice was so incredibly distinct, and I really appreciated that. Actually, all the characters had a pretty distinct voice; never at any point was I mixing people up and having to backtrack and reread dialogue to see who was saying what. Aguirre paints some real people who just jump off the page.
The whole idea of Grimspace was really neat too. I've never come across anything quite like it (though, as I've mentioned before on this blog, I've never read a lot of sci-fi) and while I don't understand *exactly* how it works, I'm glad that Aguirre didn't bog down her narrative with lengthy and scientific-y explanations of the machinations behind grimspace. She gives a brief summary of what it is, and the gene that's required to navigate grimspace, enough that I wasn't cocking my head to the side and thinking "huh?", and leaves it at that.
Of course, one of the main focuses of this novel is the romance. You're just waiting for Jax and March to get together. I sometimes roll my eyes at the whole "main characters hate each other, only to fall in love" trope, and this one had me rolling my eyes at Jax just a little bit at times (mostly at her constantly pointing out how much she hates March and how much he appears to hate her, etc.) but they had such good chemistry that I eventually got over this little quip. They were just so darned cute together, and I was actually pretty disappointed in how they hooked up for the first time. They made up for it though, later on in the book. ;)
The pace of the novel is quick and steady, which is what I like. It never felt like it dragged at any point. The only time that the novel's pacing felt a little off was at the end, when Jax gets arrested and taken into custody. It felt a little slapped on and I was honestly wondering how Aguirre was going to wrap up the novel in the amount of pages that were left. She pulled it off, but it felt a little too quick, where the rest of the novel moved at such a good pace. That's just a minor complaint though. :)
The only other minor complaint I have about this book is the swearing: I'm not opposed to swearing (not by a long shot), but I found that it was a little... gratuitous. It fits with who the characters are though; I just wish it had been toned down just a teensy bit. And not because I'm offended by swearing, I just found it kind of irritating.
Final Verdict: I read this novel at the perfect time. After finishing the very heavy Dust, this was exactly what I needed: a fun, fast-paced sci-fi novel that had a romance that I found myself rooting for. I'm not going to be rushing out to the stores to buy the sequels, but I definitely want to check them out at some time. This is a great little book for sci-fi beginners. I'd even recommend this to people who like Romance (even though the romance doesn't really take center stage until the latter half of the novel) because it's got such a great couple. No, it's not stellar writing, but Aguirre's characters have spunk, and are very distinctive. Besides, you don't jump into this kind of book looking for amazing writing; you go in for a fun story and for the great characters, and Aguirre delivers on both.