GUEST REVIEW: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Thank you for inviting me to write this review of Ann Aguirre’s Grimspace. After reading your review last month I was eager to read this and even more delighted to win one of the 20 ARCs you gave away. I am happy to report that I enjoyed the book as much as you did.
As you know, this book is written in the first person, from heroine Sirantha Jax’s POV. Generally speaking, I prefer a book written from multiple POVs. Maybe it is just what I am used to. But I have to say that this book works very well coming from Jax’s POV. Despite that "limitation" there is a very real sense that all of the characters grow and change as a result of what they go through together. And this ultimately is what makes Grimspace succeed for me. Ms. Aguirre is able to give us a strong sense of the other characters, especially March, even though we are not inside their heads. In your review you pointed out that Jax is not “loveable … [or] particularly honorable.” But, she is honest. During periods of introspection, she analyzes her actions and admits that some of those actions have had negative consequences. Jax grows and learns from her mistakes and eventually she comes to a point where she is able to refer to herself as the "new Jax." She likes herself better, and I as a reader liked her better, too.
As I read this book I was really struck by Ms. Aguirre’s earthy use of language to help us understand Jax’s personality. It is not "nice" language (although it isn’t excessively crude or rude either). The language reinforces the idea that Jax has gone through life with a cocky, devil-may-care attitude, and despite her new-found sense of responsibility, that attitude is still very much a part of who she is. It made her very real to me. There is also some wonderful description that put interesting pictures in my head. Your review referred to the description of grimspace as an "orchid unfurling." My favorite description was this one:
They say you never forget your first glimpse of Gehenna. Over the tall buildings the sky swirls with orange and red, true titian, a feature of the unique atmosphere. Of course that same air would kill human beings; hence they built the entire city inside a dome. Eternal sunset, that’s why the place is so wild. You know the feeling you get just before full dark? Sundown makes you feel like the world burgeons with possibility, and that’s Gehenna for you. (ch. 37)
It really got me wondering what it would be like to see such a sight.
Going in, I was a little worried I’d be able to buy into the romance. While I do enjoy SF/F, I needed the romance angle to work if I was going to be happy with this book. We know right from the start that Jax’s pilot and partner, Kai, died in the crash that is being blamed on Jax. Jax tells us how much she loved Kai. I needed to see Jax grieve for Kai and then set her grief aside believably before she became emotionally attached to March. Fortunately, this part of the book worked very well since it took place over a several month period. Ultimately I found the romance to be very convincing and satisfying. March is a man with unusual psychic abilities. He can read Jax’s thoughts and when they’re together he reacts to most of them with a word or a look. So while we don’t have his POV in the book, we still get a good sense of it through how he reacts to Jax. I really liked how this was done by Ms. Aguirre. Finally, March is not a perfect man. He, too, makes a costly choice. But that saves him from being a stereotypical hero and thus he is a far more interesting character.
I’ve already read the excerpt from Wanderlust (found here) and I’m eagerly awaiting its release in September so I can read more about Jax and March. I see Dina will be back and I hope we see more of Velith (a secondary character who appears late in the book) too. Meanwhile I do recommend this book, especially to those who enjoy adventure and space opera, or to anyone who wants to try something a little different.
Thanks again, Jane!
Phyl won this book as part of our DearAuthor giveaway. We have another giveaway for Sherry Thomas’ book, Private Arrangements. Other reader opinions for Grimspace:
- Teri, Writer Unboxed
- Bettie Sharpe, Sharp Words
- Tumperkin, Isn’t It Romance?
- Shara, Calico Reaction
- Bernita, An Innocent A-Blog
- Leslie, The Good, The Bad, and Unread
- Azteclady, Karen Knows Best
- Shannon C, Flight Into Fantasy
- Wendy, Kicks & Giggles
- Michele Lee, Michele Lee’s
- Caitie, eHarlequin
- Anime-Babbble, Anime-Babble
- Keilexandra, Eschewed Obfuscation