Saturday, December 21, 2013

Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi - Ashley's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Diamond Book Distributors on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

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Title: Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel
Author: Jacqueline Koyanagi
Publication Date: December 4, 2013

My Ascension Pre-Reading

Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually-advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he's a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego ... and Alana can't keep her eyes off her. But there's little time for romance: Nova's in danger and someone will do anything—even destroying planets—to get their hands on her!


Review: I feel like this book had so much potential. A sci-fi set in an unknown world (universe?) that defies all gender stereotypes. A woman engineer, a woman captain, a woman pilot... it's pretty rare to find so many strong female characters crammed into one sci-fi book. At least in my experience. And I think it could have been done so much better.

For one, I never really liked or connected with Alana. She's brash and selfish and annoying and just everything I hate in a main character. I feel like we were always on information overload with her - I know it's important to establish a character early on, especially the protagonist, but she seriously had so many problems that I never knew which one she was going to be complaining about next. I think if her issues had been spaced out more and dealt with one or two at a time instead of all at once, I would have liked her more. Or at least been less inclined to want to punch her in the face. 

I also wasn't a huge fan of the pacing or the plot in general. The beginning was so slow to me, and it took me way longer than it should have to become invested in anything that was going on. The only character we really get to know is Alana, and I think more character development early on for Tev, Slip, Ovie, Marre, and Nova would really have helped move things along. We don't really see that until the end, where all of a sudden we learn all the things about all of the people. Throw in some more twists and it's more information overload. There was just too much in this one book. 

I did love the world and the explanations of some things, and I would really like to learn more about all of it. Especially with the twist at the end. Marre was probably my favorite minor character, and I'm glad we got to learn about her background and her past and her condition. I almost wish she was the main character instead of Alana. 

Another issue I had was the lack of male characters. I can only think of a few unnamed ones and Ovie, and it just made everything really hard to believe. At least throw in a few male guards or passerby or something... This book was way too gender-biased and just annoyed me the whole time. I mean, I'm not against women being successful and holding the same jobs as men, but you can't just disregard an entire sector of the population. 

Because the feminism is so strong, the relationships were kind of weird too. I think they took too much precedence and didn't allow for the actual problems to come through. I have a hard time with romance in sci-fi, and while it was nice and interesting to see the different atypical group dynamic, I really don't need to be reminded of it every single time Tev walks into the room. That's like every other page, for crying out loud. 

I think I went into this book with my expectations a little too high, and that's part of the reason I came out disappointed. I do think there's a market out there for this book - I'm just not a part of it. If you're looking for a sci-fi with a lot of feminism, unusual relationships, interesting new worlds and universes, and love space, I think this might be a good fit for you. For me though, it was only a 2/5. 


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