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.
Salvage (Salvage #1)Featured
The characters are strong, with deep personal narratives and very real emotions and motivations. Their nuanced development is at times unexpected and familiar. I particularly liked Perpetue, the tough woman who takes Ava in and acclimates her to being planetside - on Earth. Ava's relationships with her adoptive family and the friends she makes along her journey are compelling and interesting. Perpetue's daughter, Miyole, is quite endearing and a strong character that stands on her own while still motivating a lot of plot points.
The plot and pacing are pretty much perfect. SALVAGE is sometimes a page-turner, other times a slow and thoughtful rumination on human nature. The contrasts between spaceside tribes and planetside cultures is startling. The inequality, the oppression of women, the abandonment of children - each happens in a different way on both sides of the atmosphere. Ava experiences both sides, and learns to feel at home in a completely foreign place.
The writing had a classic and somewhat timeless feel, reminiscent of Tamora Pierce and Ursula K. LeGuin. As a fan of classic sci-fi I really enjoyed this. The jargon that doesn't feel out of place or forced in context, the complex and well-developed lore and mythology, and the otherwordly feel of the writing style all work towards creating a modern masterpiece of YA science fiction.
If you are a fan of science fiction, as a teen or adult, then this book is for you. Fans of Ursula K. LeGuin, Margaret Atwood, Tamora Pierce, ENDER'S GAME, Beth Revis, and the MATCHED trilogy are a perfect audience for Alexandra Duncan's debut, SALVAGE.
Like me and most sci-fi all of the new words, concepts and world was a little overwhelming, but by Chapter 4 I was learning what everything meant and their slightly different word usage and style. I did like the world building even if it took me a while to really understand. They are on a spaceship and it sounds like something happened on the earth but they still long for it. The structure of their ships heirarchy was maddening, but I totally understand that our society used to be similar as well. Women do not have jobs as mechanics or pilots, instead their value comes from kitchens, livestock care, laundry and most importantly having babies.
I didn't connect right away with Ava but by chapter 3, I saw that she did have a spark to fight how things were, learning about the fixes and just the desire to learn more, since women don't learn to read or much math, she learned figuring on her own. We got to see pretty quickly what she was made of when she was set to be a bride for a ship that they hope to negotiate trade with, and she is caught in a compromising situation that broke my heart. Her brother all of the sudden won't talk to her, the Aethers, the other ship kicks her off, and she is going to be exiled.
As for the secondary characters I liked Soli and Luck, but wondered at the beginning why so much time was built building these relationships, but then I figured that is the catalyst for her needing to escape and being on Gyre. Then after she escapes, we meet Perpetue and Miyole. They are so accepting and Miyole is a precious, intelligent little girl. It gives Ava purpose, but also Miyole a role model and someone to help her along.
The part where they end up in Kalina and the Salts was pretty epic. The things that Ava never thought she would have to do and a strength even more than everything she'd already overcome and faced rises up in her and I really admired her and her willingness to do what needed to be done for her and Miyole. Also, how Ava discovers a kindness in strangers, really shows her that humanity can go both ways, they can do horrible things, but then also beautiful.
I am pleased with how the romance was threaded into the book and the resolution. I can't talk much about it, just like I can't talk much about where she ends up after Gyre because I def don't want to give out spoilers, but I saw tremendous character growth in her, as well as surprising twists to the story.
Despite the slow for me start, I ended up tearing through Salvage, connecting with Ava, loving the world set-up, as well as hoping for another book about Ava to release soon. But as I understand it is a standalone, so I think there is lots of potential with the great world building and character development that will be lost.
Bottom Line: For me, took until Ch. 3-4 to get fully into the story then it carried me away.