Review: Revenger by Alastair Reynolds

RevengerRevenger by Alastair Reynolds
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review based on a copy sent to me by NetGalley

Revenger appears to be the first instalment in an intriguing new science fiction series by Alastair Reynolds. This fast paced, character driven novel is an enjoyable departure from the dense, exposition-heavy space opera that Alastair Reynolds has been writing for the last 20 years.

We follow the story of Arafura Ness, a teenager with a sheltered life and a love of books as she ventures out from her father’s home in search of adventure with her more outgoing (and reckless) older sister Adrana.

Arafura comes from Mazarile, one of thousands of planetoids and habitats in a ruined Solar System that has seen multiple civilisations come and go. The economy is based on finding and exploiting artefacts from previous, more advanced civilisations. We have space ships with salty, and cynical crews sailing solar winds, exploring abandoned habitats looking for treasure. Arafura and Adrana start their adventure in one of these ships. Things go awry pretty quickly and the sisters are separated. The main plot of the book follows Arafura as she attempts to find her sister.

We get many hints to the shape and structure of the universe of Revenger. However, the book is written from the point of view of a teenager coming to grips with a chaotic and violent world and there are no dull expository passages.

There are a few other characters: mainly crew mates of Arafura and Adrana, but the story is very much Arafura’s. The dialogue can be a bit awkward at times, but I enjoyed following Arafura’s journey. The story builds to a violent and bloody climax. I didn’t find the violence gratuitous and it made sense in context of the plot and the wider world of Revenger.

Fans of Alastair Reynold’s work will find much to enjoy here: a strong female character, strong action scenes and a fantastic world to explore. The book has also been clearly written to attract readers of the burgeoning “Young Adult Fiction” genre, and I think it will be a great read for those readers who are looking for more science in their YA fiction.

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