Grimspace is the first novel in the new Jax series by Ann Aguirre. Even though this book just came out in February of this year, Wanderlust, the next book, is scheduled for release on August 26, 2008. While this romantic space opera could work perfectly well as a stand alone book, I was glad to see the next one is coming out so soon, as I am looking forward to reading more about Sirantha Jax’s adventures.
Sirantha Jax is a rare carrier of the J-gene, which allows her to jump a ship through space (grimspace) while jacked in and mentally bonded with her pilot. The monopolizing corporation she works for isolates Sirantha after she is the sole survivor of a crash in which many important people were killed, including her pilot and lover Kai. Since there is a gap in her memory, Sirantha is unsure about whether or not the crash is her fault. However, she is sure that something terrible is going to happen to her if she remains there and decides to take her chances when a mysterious man named March sneaks in to her room to steal her away from them.
After meeting the rest of the crew she is now supposed to work with and learning of their plans to study the J-gene and recruit jumpers from various planets, Sirantha feels as though she may not be better off with these strangers after all. They are in constant danger and Sirantha actively dislikes half of her new companions – a rather snarky lesbian mechanic, a peaceful alien slave, cold-hearted March, and a kind-hearted doctor. She and March in particular grate on each other’s nerves and are constantly bickering.
Grimspace is an entertaining and fast-paced adventure containing a nice blend of character interaction and rapid plot advancement. It is not terribly original, nor is it a novel that will blow your mind with profound insights and deep characters, but it is a lot of fun from the first page to the very last page. The pace is rather fast, sometimes too fast even, as I felt the ending was a bit rushed.
The story is told from Sirantha’s point of view and is all in the present tense. The language is very modern and the prose is nothing special, but it certainly works for an enjoyable tale. Most of the time Sirantha’s thoughts are quite amusing.
Although they are not astonishingly well-written, Sirantha and March are interesting characters with dark pasts with room for more revelations in the future about how they came to be the people they are. Sirantha is one of those badass women who says exactly what is on her mind no matter what the consequences, often leading to trouble. There is a lot of snappy dialogue and tension between the two characters who have a bit of a love/hate relationship.
I have seen a lot of comparisons between this book and the TV series Firefly and I can see the resemblance. This book also reminded me somewhat of Catherine Asaro’s Primary Inversion, although it is less reflective and scientific.
Grimspace is a novel worth checking out if you are a fan of strong female leads, adventure, and romance. It’s a quick read that will not challenge your world view, but it certainly can be challenging to put the book down.