Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Perdition by Ann Aguirre

WELCOME TO HELL

The prison ship Perdition, a floating city where the Conglomerate’s most dangerous criminals are confined for life, orbits endlessly around a barren asteroid.

Life inside is even more bleak. Hailed as the Dread Queen, inmate Dresdemona “Dred” Devos controls one of Perdition’s six territories, bordered on both sides by would-be kings eager to challenge her claim. Keeping them at bay requires constant vigilance, as well as a steady influx of new recruits to replace the fallen. Survival is a constant battle, and death is the only escape.

Of the newest convicts, only one is worth Dred’s attention. The mercenary Jael, with his deadly gaze and attitude, may be the most dangerous criminal onboard. His combat skill could give her the edge she needs, if he doesn’t betray her first. Unfortunately, that’s what he does best. Winning Jael’s allegiance will be a challenge, but failure could be worse than death…

I’m a big fan of Ann Aguirre’s science fiction.  I loved her Sirantha Jax series, and even though the last book felt a bit rushed I still consider myself a fan.  So when I saw she was starting a new series in the same universe, I jumped on board. Her newest book, Perdition, is an action-packed story that will delight current fans, but may leave more traditional sci-fi readers wanting.

Perdition takes place on a ship of the same name, an abandoned subspace mining camp that the government uses to house the worst criminals in the galaxy.  The story revolves around Dred, The Dread Queen, a woman trying to live up to her own legend and maintain her kingdom, one of five gang controlled sections of the ship.  Into this mess comes Jael, who some readers might recognize from the Sirantha Jax series.  War is coming to Perdition, and Dred needs Jael’s help to hold onto her kingdom.  Also, maybe, for some kissing.  Because Perdition is a sci-fi romance.

There’s a lot to like about this book.  The pacing is fast, the characters are immensely likeable, and Perdition is a fascinatingly decrepit ship.  This is sold as a sci-fi romance, but the romance is definitely secondary to the action in this installment.  In fact, I wanted a little more from the romance.  Not a deal breaker, but I’d like to see more of the chemistry between Jael and Dred in upcoming installments, if only because their romance seemed a little too easy and too immediate in this story.   Aguirre does complex relationships so well that I’d love to see some of that in upcoming books.

For seasoned sci-fi readers, the fast paced plot may not be enough to make up for the cookie cutter characters and lack of hard science.  Aguirre is not afraid to use a bevy of stock characters to populate her novel, and those looking for complex character development may be disappointed at seeing such tried and true tropes.

But I think tropes become popular for a reason, and Aguirre’s characters worked for me.  The frantic pacing, life or death battles, and constant political intrigue kept me turning pages, and I was sorely disappointed when the story was over.

Thank goodness it’s the first of a trilogy.

Perdition is perfect for science fiction fans who like their stories heavy on action and light on science.  It’s also a great installment for those just getting into science fiction and YA readers looking for something on the adult side, since the pacing is quick and the action drives the story more than technical jargon.  I highly recommend Perdition, and can’t wait until book two!

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