As my current WIP explores diversity and minority rights issues, my reading expands to understand the issues better. This novel was an inspiring insight and a great read.
Ascension (Tangled Axon #1)
by Jacqueline Koyanagi (Goodreads Author)
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 5 stars
The blurb for Ascension hooked me as did most of the reviews. As an SF addict, I wasn’t disappointed, and the ‘diversity’ themes worked, although I am, I admit, an outsider in many ways.
Ascension had a great opening with subtle info and backstory from the family finances and the planetary economics – familiar inequalities – through to the disease that afflicts the protagonist. The thoughts, words and actions ensure that I was immediately attracted to Alana Quick as she stowed away on the Tangled Axon and gradually began unravelling things about the strange and diverse crew.
What drives the starship captain Tev? That was a question that kept being answered and yet only layer by layer. She was as intriguing to me as she was for Alana. All the crew were complex with carefully revealed backstories and motivations, and the characterisation was well-crafted.
Just like the jewellery which provided me with one of many puzzles, although I laughed as the reveal was not as I expected. The novel was filled with little details that both added to the world-building and set it apart.
The stakes were raimped-up at a crucial point and I found myself asking ‘Did that really happen?!’ Somebody was motivated to raise the danger-level, but why? Wearing my mystery-reader glasses, I had suspects, but the curveballs kept me guessing – and reading. The threat to the crew, the starship and Alana produced some great writing. The structure and the placement of the key moments felt spot-on.
Alana sensed so much and her words evoked so many feelings. I am a fan of deep POV and Ascension worked for me as it drew me into the protagonist’s mind – a mind torn by events, her attachments, her feelings, her fears and her declining health.
With so much to bear, her senses became even more emotive as the novel developed. I felt the chronic suffering in my own diseased body – yes, I have two chronic diseases – and Jacqueline Koyanagi did an excellent job capturing that. In fact, she caught the disease suffering so well that I was sure that the other ‘sensitivity’ issues were dealt with as carefully.
Alana unravels reality, not always making or taking the right moves, but as all the best protagonists do, by seeing through another’s eyes – except that moment is a revelation like no other. And we all need to learn why love burns, although for Alana it goes so much deeper. But I’m toying with you, avoiding spoilers. Suffice to say, that an unexpected twist leads to the clever climax and the hint that there will be more to enjoy.
A highly recommended read, especially if you want SF with a twist – a diverse breath of plasma.
Story – five stars
Setting/World-building – five stars
Characters – five stars
Structure – five stars
Readability – five stars
Editing – five stars
Probably not something I would read, but it does help to broaden your horizons when writing something outside of your comfort zone. The book does have a wicked cool cover.
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The cover was another selling point, Alex – as well as a review by a reviewer I follow. Not everyone’s ‘cup of tea’ but well-written. (I’m still going to use ‘sensitivity’ readers when I have a realistic draft of my WIP.)
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