Book Reviews

Ascension by Jacqueline Koyanagi

Ascension by Jacqueline KoyanagiAscension on 2013, eBook, 336 pages
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Alana Quick is the best damned sky surgeon in Heliodor City, but repairing starship engines barely pays the bills. When the desperate crew of a cargo vessel stops by her shipyard looking for her spiritually-advanced sister Nova, Alana stows away. Maybe her boldness will land her a long-term gig on the crew. But the Tangled Axon proves to be more than star-watching and plasma coils. The chief engineer thinks he's a wolf. The pilot fades in and out of existence. The captain is all blond hair, boots, and ego... and Alana can't keep her eyes off her. But there's little time for romance: Nova's in danger and someone will do anything - even destroying planets - to get their hands on her!

I bought Ascension because of some review I read somewhere on a blog (which I can’t find now), because I love scifi and I love space stories and I’m tired of scifi space stories with straight white people in them. Ascension, while not a perfect book, has a LOT of exciting things in it that should make any scifi fan happy to read it.
It started off very strong. The first half of the book was fantastic; it introduces us to the world of Ascension and the people who navigate through it. There are alien planets! Creepy aliens with creepy alien technology! Spaceships and space pirates and also psychics who balance peoples auras or something!
And Alana is a super-duper protagonist; she’s strong without being a caricature and vulnerable without being damsel-in-distress-y. Her narrative voice is perfect— the writing is fantastic and sucked me into Alana’s story HARD. I was totally giving myself high-fives all over the place for buying Ascension and sticking it on my ereader.
Then…it went south. I didn’t notice until about the halfway mark, but all the non-romance plot development was SUPER SLOW. In the beginning there was some stuff about Alana/her sister/the creepy aliens, and then there was a huge explosion and things got crazy! And then it suddenly wasn’t. It just stalled.
It’s like the super-exciting alien stuff got put on hold for about half of the book so Alana and her love interest could make moon eyes at each other. Which is fine! I don’t mind moon eyes, as long as it’s balanced with the rest of the story. But to drop what seemed to be a huge important part of the plot halfway through? Not a fan of that.
(The romance part was okay, I guess? But there were tons of problems caused by people just not asking questions or offering important information. Which I guess happens in real life but is SUPER ANNOYING when the only thing “on screen” is just people staring at each other and breathing heavily.
Also I am not a fan of Tev (Alana’s love interest). I didn’t buy into her characterization. She’s presented as this hardcore, semi-scary spaceship captain with a secretly mushy heart, but I didn’t get that vibe from her at all. I think her dialogue just wasn’t that good compared to most of the other characters, who did feel authentic.
I DID like that when Tev and Alana finally had a conversation about their relationship and where it was going, it was handled with the importance that it (and they) deserved. And I LOVE that they actually had such a conversation in the first place! I don’t think I’ve ever read a book before where the romantic leads actually talk about their relationship beyond “omg I love you.”)
The action plot finally got picked up again in what seemed like the last 5% of the book. Also there were like five ridonkulous tropes crammed into the conclusion; it was like a bad Star Trek episode, the kind that spawns drinking games.
mirror spock star trek
It’s too bad I keep focusing on the things I didn’t like, because the good stuff was wonderful! REALLY WONDERFUL. I definitely recommend Ascension for people who want an emotional-y scifi story, and for those who like space operas and scifi romances. Just watch out for the bumpiness in the middle, there.
Read: January 1, 2014
A thing I liked but didn’t mention was how almost all the characters were women! For example, an enforcer shows up. I think “what’s that dude gonna do”; book says “She tasered someone and then hit them over the head”; I think “woah! Female enforcer! And I totally just assumed she’d be a dude and my mind is blown and that’s really cool.”

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