GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre
Something completely different for me. I'm going to get right to the point. Yeah, don't faint, it might not happen again for a long time.
I really, really liked GRIMSPACE by Ann Aguirre. Sirantha Jax is a wonderfully flawed and intense character. I loved being in her head. The only way I know how to describe the rhythm and flow of this book is to tell you that I felt like I was absorbing the book by whole pages at a time instead of reading it. Does that make any sense? I have to say, it was a wonderful feeling. Grimspace is written in first person in such a way that the reader feels sort of like a voyeur or a part of the character's stream of consciousness. It's a very intimate feeling and puts the reader in the moment with Jax.
Jax has a J-gene or "jumper" gene that allows her to help space travel by "jumping" the space cruisers (think warp speed) to a specific charted destination through a nirvana-like no man's land called Grimspace. That said, there are a couple of important things to know about Jax. One is that jumpers get very attached to their pilots because there is a built-in intimacy during the jump between the two parties. Secondly, jumpers don't have a long life expectancy because their body breaks down from the stress it goes through doing the jumps. And, finally, Jax has just survived a crash from her last jump where the most important person in her life, her pilot Kai, was killed.
It's hard not to be engaged by Jax self awareness and honesty. She knows she's a difficult person to live and deal with. Her wry sense of humor is so refreshing and human that I couldn't help admiring her and being amused by her intelligence and wit. Ms. Aguirre did a great job of creating a woman who can, at least internally, admit her need and love for her pilot, Kai, at the same time be strong enough to want to survive her loss and live life again. Jax has to choose, more than once, about how far and how hard she wants to work to live a life with meaning.
Not all of Jax choices are her own. Some of them are thrust upon her like when she meets our male protag, Marsh. Marsh comes to Jax where she's being held after the crash to suggest there's something more she might want to do with her life. Without many options or time to make decisions Jax goes with Marsh and the adventure of this book begins.
I'm not your usual fantasy or science fiction reader. Recently I've enjoyed LORD OF THE FADING LAND by C.L. Wilson which has elements of fantasy and magic. I remember making a comment in a discussion with other readers (when Nath and Ames were visiting) that I don't like magic or fairies or ghosts in my books. Nath, who has a memory and a mind like a steel trap, remembered my liking C.L. Wilson's books which have wizards and magic in them. All true.
So I guess it would be honest to say that while I'd be a reluctant reader of fantasy, science fiction or futuristics, I do read them. Although I have to confess right here and now that I'm fickle. Perhaps if I were a bit more analytical or brighter I might be able to figure out the common denominator in the books I've liked. But to be honest, I couldn't tell you any single thing for sure.
I can tell you that I bought this book because of online buzz and that I'm always willing to try something different. Like most avid readers I'm always curious to see what treasure is behind the next book cover. I'm so glad I took a chance and opened this book and started reading. Once I did I couldn't put it down.
Fortunately, the further adventures of Jax will be here soon. The next book in the series, Wanderlust is due out August 26, 2008. You can read an excerpt here.