HarperCollins Greenwillow (CA: 24th March 2014; US: 1st April 2014)
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How the mighty have fallen. On the night before her wedding, Parastrata Ava makes a major mistake that throws the merchant spaceship crewes of Parastrata and Æther into chaos. Left to freeze to death, Ava begins freeing herself the only way she knows how – by “fixes”.
Salvage stands out in many ways from the pack. Although sci-fi, don’t go in expecting uprises against governments or battle scenes. Instead, it unfurls slowly, taking the time to explore a new location and way of life, but moving on to something else before you can get bored. Also, it’s a stand-alone novel, though in the hands of a different author it could’ve been dragged out to a trilogy and stuffed with filler. Thankfully, this 520-page tome is self-contained, and though theoretically there could be other stories set in this world worth telling, Ava’s seems done for now, and that feels right. Another rare thing in its favour is that I actually cheered for Ava’s romance with Rushil.
Alexandra Duncan depicts beautiful, dangerous settings with colour and depth. From the austere life on merchant ships, to house-boating in Haiti, to the humidity of the Salt, and to a more luxurious life in Mumbai… But as much as Ava may wish for independence, she can’t make it alone. If Perpétue, Rushil, and Soraya have taught her anything, it’s that sometimes you can rely on the kindness of strangers. Ava does seem rather too stupid to live when she has to be rescued in each new location, but by the final chapter she seems capable, and maybe even confident.
Salvage is not just a pretty cover – there’s also an extraordinary story inside.