Authors: Alastair Reynolds
Date of Publication: 15th September, 2016
Page Count: 432 pages (hardcover)
Synopsis: (from Goodreads)
A superb science fiction adventure set in the rubble of a ruined universe, this is a deep space heist story of kidnap, betrayal, alien artifacts and revenge.
The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilizations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives.
And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them.
Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It’s their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded by layers of protection–and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous.
Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore’s crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular.
Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future–a tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism and of vengeance…
Where do I even begin with this book – I enjoyed it, if that’s the right word for something that ripped my heart out and stomped all over it, then poured acid over the battered remains! This was one hell of a read, to say the least.
I had no idea what to expect from one page to the next; there was no safety net, no predictability whatsoever! I thought I knew where this story was going – the sisters would be trained to use their mental aptitude and become Bone Readers, face some pirates, take a few losses but ultimately emerge victorious and having won the loyalty and admiration of their crew. That’s all thrown out the window very early on – I won’t spoil you for what exactly transpires, but it is a game-changer and left me completely baffled as to where the plot could be going since the whole foundation of the story collapsed beneath the protagonist’s feet, throwing her (and me) into a state of panic and chaos.
Reading this was such a gut-wrenching experience; normally, I stick with safe, fluffy romances and fantasy which doesn’t deviate much from the norm, where I’m assured a happy ending and I can see plot twists coming, even if I’m not sure how it’s going to be resolved. But ‘Revenger’ was basically ‘A Series of Unfortunate Events’, just when you thought things couldn’t get worse, they did! I couldn’t believe how much grief and suffering Fura went through, but it had me riveted to see how she would emerge from one scrape and then deal with the next.
The author throws in a lot of ‘space pirate’ lingo – normally I’m not a huge fan of faux-colloquialisms, but in this case, I found it very revealing in tracking Fura’s character growth as she became more accustomed to life in space and gradually adapted the speech patterns of her crew. What was a bit more of an issue for me was the scientific jargon that peppered the early chapters and baffled me a bit, before I just shrugged and plowed through it. I grew up binge-watching X-files, Star Trek and Stargate SG-1, so I’m used to appreciating but not understanding technobabble and letting it slide past me; I simply took the jargon as part of the scenery and didn’t try too hard to grasp it, but some readers may find it irksome.
But the most important aspect to me is characterization – ‘Revenger’ is basically Fura’s coming-of-age story and how she struggled to find her place in the universe, what she sacrificed to become independent and who she became as a result of the hardships she endured (spoiler alert: the title is foreshadowing). In short, your enjoyment of this book hinged on whether or not you found her likeable or at least interesting enough to invest in, and luckily, I found Fura mesmerizing. She was psychologically damaged by the events she lived through, and it made her such a wildly unpredictable character – there were so many moments I just couldn’t believe the decisions she made and the repercussions thereof. It was like watching a train-wreck and being unable to avert my eyes!
A minor flaw for me was that the ultimate resolution to the central conflict was a little unrealistic, but it didn’t take away too much from my enjoyment of the overall story. Fura had been through such a hellish ordeal that even if it was a bit too convenient how it all worked out, I still felt it was emotionally rewarding and cathartic. This wasn’t a very ‘comfortable’ read, but it was definitely worthwhile and I’m very glad I requested this even though it was very unlike my usual reading preferences.
I thought this was a wonderfully tense and gripping story, and anyone who enjoys fast-paced, action-packed, nail-biting suspense should definitely try this out!
Personal Rating: 5 out of 5 kitties approve this book!
Disclaimer: I received a digital ARC free from Orion Publishing Group via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.