Saturday, 15 March 2014

Review: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Title: Salvage (Salvage #1)
Author: Alexandra Duncan
Release date: April 1st 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Young Adult Science Fiction
Format: eARC
Pages: 298
Source: Edelweiss

Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean, in this thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood.

I had pretty high expectations for Salvage, partly because of the beautiful cover and partly because I adore sci-fi and I loved Beth Revis's Across the Universe series. Let me tell you now that the books are nothing alike, apart from the fact that both have space settings. I found myself disappointed with this book overall, but there were definitely parts that I enjoyed.

Ava lives on the Parastrata, the ship where she was born and has been living her whole life. But when it's time for her to get married, Ava makes a life-altering mistake, and as a result she's cast out. She escapes imminent death, taking refuge on Earth, or 'groundside', where she's never set foot before. Ava has to learn to fit in and take care of herself while simultaneously trying to find out what happened to Luck, the boy she's in love with and was supposed to marry.

It was really hard for me to get into this novel, mostly due to the unusual way the characters spoke on the ship. The phrasing was odd, even in the narration, since it's in first person from Ava's point of view. It took a while to get accustomed to that. Also, I found that nothing really happened for a long time, and I ended up skimming occasionally through the first half. The book is divided into two parts, and it only started getting really good in Part 2. Since this is about halfway in, I'm just proud I managed to plow through the bits I couldn't enjoy.

I think the world-building is really great, and we get to see exactly how lives are led on the Parastrata. The people have a really sexist attitude, though. It seemed to me like they were living in ancient times rather than a futuristic one. The women only cleaned, took care of the livestock, and had babies. The men were the ones doing mechanical work and trading with other ships. Also, the polygamy was a little unsettling as well, though interesting. Most men of power have several wives, and they cast off the previous ones like they're nothing. The Parastrata really doesn't seem like a nice place to live in, and I'm glad Ava got the hell out of there.

I loved that Part 2 is set in Mumbai! Well, because I'm from there. Anyway, I liked that the author has done her research pretty well, and the Hindi phrases included were definitely a nice touch. Like I said, the world-building is done really well, so we get to see what kind of city the Mumbai she visited was. It's not much different from what it currently is, which was a bit of a letdown because I was expecting more advanced things since they have regular space travel and all. But regardless, it was awesome reading about my city and the people in it.

We don't get to know much about any character apart from Ava, because the book focuses on her development. I really liked her, though. Ava's different from her crewe because she's part-human, and also because her mind is sort of on a different wavelength. She doesn't conform to the stifling norm of the women on the ship, and she's rebellious. Ava's also really passionate, and though naive, she has a heart of gold. I honestly didn't find any faults with her - she's an amazing protagonist to read about.

There isn't too much romance in this book, so you'd find it surprising that there's sort of a love triangle, right? Well, there are two love interests anyway - Luck and Rushil. Luck is the guy Ava wanted to marry, and they had a serious case of insta-love. It was crazy - they'd met each other once before, and the second time they meet? Totally in love. I did like Luck, though. He seemed like he really cared for Ava. But I rooted for Rushil - a guy Ava meets in Mumbai. He's kind to her, takes her in and helps her find a job. Ava's suspicious at first, but grows to trust him. Rushil is extremely kind, and he's light-hearted as well. I think the two of them were good together.

Not much really happens throughout, since the book is mainly Ava's journey - mental as well as physical. She searches within herself to find what she truly wants, and who she wants to be. I thought the ending was quite abrupt, for a supposed standalone. This book is really long, so maybe more pages should have been dedicated towards sorting out the ending at a slower pace rather than the overload of descriptions in the beginning. Salvage definitely wasn't what I was expecting, so if you're looking for something like Across the Universe, you'll be disappointed. But this is still a book I'd recommend, if you're looking for a unique read about a different sort of culture.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. It's pretty cool that the author was able to keep the authenticity of your culture. Though it's too bad that you were not able to fully enjoy this book. I'm not a fan of slow reads myself, so I can understand your sentiments.

    Great review, Richa. :)


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