19 November 2013 @ 09:48 am
book review for womanverse  

Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi

I'm going to have to be honest, what originally caught my eye was the cover in the middle of Unshelved's weekly book rec list. I was just quick scrolling through when my brain caught up to what I was doing with a sharp 'was that a black woman in armor on a scifi background?!' so I scrolled back up and yes, yes it was. So I read the blurb and was absolutely sure it was too good to be true. "Her stories feature queer women of color, folks with disabilities, neuroatypical characters, and diverse relationship styles". JACKPOT. So I read through the goodreads and amazon reviews and seems like it really might really be that good.

Spoiler: It really is that good.

So Ascension is the story of Alana Quick, she's a tough as nails sky surgeon (space ship mechanic) struggling to make due, living on the outskirts of the "more civilized" central area of Heliodor City. She suffers from a chronic pain condition, and is desperately trying to save up enough for a cure from Transliminal Solutions. Her doctor tries to convince her to go for a payment plan, but that's basically Translim speech for indentured servitude and she's not willing to give up her dream of working on (and maybe flying on) starships.

This where the plot kicks off and the story becomes a tiny bit more fantasy than I was excepting. A starship lands and they request/demand information on Alana's sister Nova. Nova however is on vacation and has requested no one contact her. After fruitless round of questions from the Axon crew, and more than a few 'are you sure you don't need a engineer?' type questions from Alana, the ships doctor (Helen Vasquez) makes a passing comment about how it really wouldn't be feasible to turn the entire ship around once they are out of orbit should an unwanted piece of cargo be found in the hold *wink wink nudge nudge* and if said cargo could provide a specific piece of info once in the air they might not even drop said cargo off at the next port they hit.

The rest of the book is basically about finding her sister Nova, who is both a spirit guide and hiding from Translim, and getting her to make a deal with Transliminal Solutions to help the Axon's pilot who has a problem about fading in and out of reality. Along the way, planets get destroyed, the truth about Translim and spirit guides are discovered and Alana falls in love with Captain, who is in love with the doctor, who is in a relationship with their engineer (who is a wolf, sometimes). Oh and the ship is alive... kinda.

All in all I highly recommend this book if you like sci-fi/fantasy where the plot takes precedent over the romance, adults actually sit down and talk about their problems (after minimal private angsting), and where everyone is portrayed and tree dimension people with hopes and dreams and vices.