Tuesday, June 6, 2017

SciFi/Fantasy Book Review: Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

Long Review after the Jump:

Revenger is a book that is in large part a really engrossing tale.  Really the first 80% of this book is a gripping tale.  Maybe 90%.  Alas, that last 10% doesn't quite live up to the promise.  This is a space opera-esque book (mostly) with a great main protagonist and a strong setup.  The setup and worldbuilding is strong enough that I could easily see more books in this universe, but for now, this is a stand alone story.

-----------------------------------------Plot Summary-----------------------------------------
In a distant future, Humanity has spread to many distant worlds and many many civilizations have risen and fallen.  These long lost civilizations have left behind treasures, hidden away and locked inside space objects known as baubles.  But Brave crews go after these baubles and find them when they open, risking their lives to find the treasures inside in order to make a fortune.

Adrana and Arafura Ness are sisters who have grown up under a father who has ruined his life by throwing away his fortune.  Under Adrana's urging, the two run away and wind up on one of these crews, acting as Bone Readers - navigators/communicators who use mystical bones to communicate/read what is going on out in space.  But in addition to the treasure hunters, there are more dangerous beings out in space, and when they come for their crew, the two sisters are separated.

Now, Arafura "Fura" Ness, once a sheltered 16 year old girl, is left nearly alone with one goal: To find her sister once again, and rescue her if she's alive.....and to take revenge upon the evil that has torn them apart.

Revenger is told in large part in first person, from Fura's perspective, as she learns about space and the universe, and as she takes on her quest to become the instrument of her sister's salvation and revenge.  After a weak first chapter that didn't quite fit the mood of the rest of the book, the story opens up and is incredibly strong, thanks in large part to Fura's voice and the characters we meet along the way.

Really the only problem with this book, and what prevents it from getting a really strong recommendation from me, is that the ending is a bit of a let down.  The book does a strong job of foreshadowing the potential twists to come, and doesn't act like those twists should be that surprising (the author rightfully knows we would guess those twists, and thus doesn't try too hard to conceal them).  But the ending still comes a bit too easily, and too short.  The evil bad guy is a monster who has terrorized worlds....and yet the final confrontation is remarkably easy.  Oh and then the book shoehorns in the title and a framing device that just seems completetly unnecessary.

Perhaps it doesn't matter too much, since the story is really about Fura's journey.  And she's fantastic as a character, and I'd love to read more of her as she takes off from after this book. But I don't know, I just wish the ending played out a bit longer, to really better fit the epicness setup earlier.

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