Revenger - Alastair Reynolds

Another book read courtesy of my local library system and their 45p reservations - while I finished this book, it was very much skimmed towards the end and there's no chance I'll bother with the eventual sequel (due out in 2019, I think?). Partway through, I was wondering if Revenger was supposed to be YA because there's usually a clue about the age of the protagonists - in this case late teens - but couldn't see anything on the cover or blurb that implied this. So, if you're looking to avoid teenage angst or impulsive decision making then this might not be the book for you. 

 

The basic premise is that a bunch of civilisations have risen and fallen, leading to the known universe being speckled with what are called 'baubles' - essentially caches of historic weaponry, technology and valuable goods, usually protected so they can only be accessed in particular times for a limited period. As a result, some people make a living doing salvage and it's this lifestyle that our protagonists, two teenage sisters, get themselves into when their father bankrupts the family firm. In this economy, teenagers have a particular value because they can utilise the technology employed to communicate over long distances and their ability to do this dwindles as they get older.

 

Anyway, after a couple of missions, the sisters are separated - one is captured by a pirate and the other eventually rescued but then dragged home under duress, all the while vowing to escape and rescue her sister. I was already having some issues with the pacing up to this point, as well as the flatness of pretty much all of the characterisation - the main villain, for example, refers to herself in the third person and there's plenty of (metaphorical) moustache-twirling to accompany it. This is the point where, in order to remove a tracking bracelet, the protagonist has her arm cut off and, although the technology exists to just sever the arm and then replace it intact, chooses to have a prosthetic instead. Not because of any special abilities, since I was waiting for it to be a piece of foreshadowing, but because it's pretty. *headdesk*

 

Anyway, I'm sure this book is someone's cup of tea but it wasn't quite mine. Folks looking for space opera without any kind of romantic sub-plot will probably like this a lot, though there is a pretty high body count too.