Suited by Jo Anderton
Suited by Jo Anderton is the sequel to Debris which I read and reviewed earlier this year. I received an advanced review from the publisher, Angry Robot, but my sources tell me it should be available in ebook and paperback from today.
Suited was a surprising read. The first part was as expected a more or less direct continuation from Debris. After the somewhat disastrous events at the end of Debris, life in the city of Movoc-under-Keeper goes on. Mostly. Tanyana returns to debris collecting with her team and the other citizens of the city go about their usual jobs, albeit with a lot more repair work.
However, the world is not going back to how it was. Pion binders trying to repair damage are finding that they can’t, or that their repairs are short-lived. The debris collectors just can’t find much debris anywhere, even though the damaged pions suggest it should be everywhere. And the sinister puppet men still seem to be everywhere when Tanyana looks closely. In short, doom is looming.
In Debris, Tayana spent a lot more time worrying about her own life than she did in Suited (and Suited is much more about fixing/saving the world than Debris was). It made her a more likeable character, although there were parts where I don’t think she was supposed to be sympathetic, shifting more towards scary.
The romantic plotline, while no more prominent than in the first book, is handled better, I thought. I didn’t quite find the genesis of the relationship in Debris believable, but that was definitely not the case in Suited. I also like how Tanyana spent more time worrying about saving the world and less time worrying about her relationship issues (some of her friends spent more time worrying about her relationship issues than she did).
The ending was strange. The climax went as one would expect but the denouement did not. Of course going into detail would be spoilerific, but suffice to say there’s definitely room for a sequel series.
This is not a book to read without having first read Debris. I don’t think it would make all that much since since a lot of the foundation world building is done in the first book (as you would expect) and is critical to the plot. That said, this is an excellent series and I highly recommend both books to lovers of fantasy*.
4.5 / 5 stars
* As far as I’m concerned, it’s fantasy. Others’ opinions may vary by my feeling is that just because the magic is structured, doesn’t make it science. Also? Throwing in a few modern words also doesn’t make something science fiction when it’s full of magic, even if it has a vaguely steampunkish setting. Just throwing my hat in because some people have called this series SF. That said, I reserve the right to classify any potential sequels differently upon reading them.
I bought a Kobo Touch ereader on my way home from a distant trip. Partly because it’s hard to have an 8 hour layover without buyingsomethingother than necessary food (I also bought a giant box of Jelly Belly jelly beans at half the price of duty free, whoo), and partly because carrying paper books to read on long-haul flights is tedious. For one thing, they weigh more and take up more room and, for another, being shoved in my bag leads to more damaged covers (sacrilege!) than leaving them at home. Also, I have a terrible tendency to choose the wrong sort of books to take on flights, but I’m not blaming that on the dead trees.
Usually I read ebooks on my iPhone or iPad (on the go vs at home when hubby isn’t using it) and that’s not going to change. I have absolutely no problem reading on backlit screens and, hey, my iPhone still has more pixels than the Kobo making it smoother on the eyes. So why did I buy a Kobo? Battery life. It takes 24+ hours to fly from Europe to Australia and neither iThing can survive that many hours of near constant use (even in
airplane aeroplane mode) and still have juice for emergencies upon arrival. Sure, I could bet on not reading the whole way — perhaps trying to sleep or availing myself of inflight entertainment — but sleep doesn’t always happen and not all flights have TVs in seats, especially overnight flights (and out of 24+ hourssome of that has to be overnight). So I bought a Kobo, which I just spent too many words justifying.
I wanted to test out my new Kobo but didn’t want to commit to reading an entire novel on it. After loading all my books on it (well, most of them; I discovered I don’t have the best ebook backup/filing system) I thought why not read some short stories that I’ve downloaded or bought and not got around to? The covers above are the stories I’ve read in the past couple of days.
“Grandeur” by Jo Anderton
This is a prequel teaser for Debris(see my review here). It gives a bit of a taste of the world and the characters, particularly the main character, Tanyana. Of course it contains no information crucial to the story in Debris, but I found it an interesting backstory. You can download it free as a PDF from the author’s website.
“Marine Biology” by Gail Carriger
This is a great story with adorable characters. Alec, the main character, is an in-the-closet werewolf who really doesn’t fit in with his pack. There are also merpeople and selkies. It’s similar in sensibilities to Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate books, but set in the modern world and with marine supernaturals included. (Side note: the cover works particularly well on the black and white Kobo e-ink screen.) You can buy it for 99 US cents on Smashwords.
“Party, With Echoes” by Patty Jansen
This is a science fictional deep-sea adventure set on Europa. It has weird alien bacterial colonies and an ice cave. Fun, quick read. You can download it free (for now?) on Smashwords.
“How Astrid Found Her Passion” by Nichole Murphy
A fantasy story about an Australian woman who gets mysteriously transported to a magical kingdom and inadvertently tangled up in a local dispute between mages and a lord. Another fun, quick read. You can also download this story free (for now?) on Smashwords.
Debris by Jo Anderton
Cross posted from here.
I enjoyed Debris by Jo Anderton.
I read a lot of fantasy, especially by Australian writers (no surprise that they’re dominating my reading so far this year). I’ve found that Australian fantasy is less likely to stick to clichéd convention and in that respect, Debris definitely does not disappoint.
The magical system Anderton has developed is focused around pions — bearing no resemblance to the mesons beloved by particle physicists, if you were wondering — tiny, glowing particles that permeate reality and which can be manipulated by people sufficiently skilled and trained. Some people can bind pions to their will, some can’t even see them. The debris of the title is magical matter left over from pion binding; useless refuse that disrupts crucial pions if not cleared away. Overall, the world has a little bit of a steampunk feel to it, mostly because that was the level of technology the society reached before the pion revolution something like 200 years before the start of the story.
The main character, Tanyana, is a highly skilled pion binder architect before she falls — both literally and metaphorically — in the first chapter. Or was she pushed? Forced to live the life of a lowly debris collector when her former lifestyle is lost to her, Tanyana struggles to find some explanation for what happened to her. Because she is convinced something else was there, when she fell, something that pushed her but that no one else could see.
I enjoyed Tanyana as a character. She is arrogant, but I didn’t see that as a bad thing. It made her interesting. She is both realistic and self-deluded about different things (for example, she’s not trying to get her life back, rather to find answers, but on the other hand, she tries to cling to the trappings of her old life a little too long). Most of all, when everything is taken from her, she is a survivor. She finds something else to be a part of. Of course, she doesn’t enjoy it at first, but she accepts it fairly quickly.
The other characters weren’t painted nearly as brightly as Tanyana. Mostly, this is due to the first person nature of the narrative. We know exactly what’s going on in Tanyana’s head all the time, but she doesn’t spend overly much time dwelling on other people (barring special exceptions). It was very much a one-woman show, with everyone else playing second fiddle, which isn’t a bad thing, given the external events also revolve about Tanyana. The only thing, characterisation-wise, that put me off a bit was her love interest. In the scene where they first hook up, I couldn’t really understand at the time why she interested in him, beyond the fact that he provoked her. It does make sense in retrospect, and the subsequent interactions between them worked well, but at the time that first scene left me ambivalent.
The conspiracy and the action in the latter half of the book had be eagerly turning the pages, however it started a more slowly and built up the world gradually. Also, while the climax was very much the most crucial scene in the book, I found the penultimate all-hell-breaks-loose disaster more exciting, in the action-packed sense.
As I said at the start, I enjoyed this book a lot. I am looking forward to reading the sequel out in July this year.
I am also about to go off and read Grandeur, a prequel short story which you can find on Jo Anderton’s website here.
Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars