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Revenger by Alastair Reynolds
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Revenger (2016)

by Alastair Reynolds

Series: Revenger (1)

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Talk about going into a book with the wrong expectations. I was in the mood for something space opera so when I stumbled across Revenger I thought I was in luck. It had a decent average rating and this was the synopsis:

Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future--a tale of space pirates, buried treasure, and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism and of vengeance...

I definitely should have scanned some reviews first. What the synopsis fails to mention is how incredibly YA this story is. Now I definitely like my share of YA books. Unfortunately Revenger just didn't do it for me. A big part of the problem I had was the juvenile vocabulary used by a society that was advanced enough to have figured out space travel. Lungstuff, the glowy, the grey, swirly, squaker... it took me half the book to not be taken out of the story each time those words were used, though I never really could get used to "lungstuff."

The characters also never grew on me. The story follows Fura Ness as she goes from a naive, privileged rich girl to a toughened, street-wise teen who will do anything to rescue her sister. While I can understand her motivation, the character growth never felt authentic. It's rushed through and suddenly she can plan strategy better than professionals who have been pirating for their whole lives. The most interesting character for me was the story's villain, Bosa Sennan. Bosa and her ship have a whole mythology built up around them that was fun if horrifying and made the final conflict intense.

What I did like, and wish there was more of, was the whole concept behind the baubles and the treasure to be found. Once we actually get to see one and start to get proper descriptions of the "loot" I started to enjoy the story. Too bad this didn't happen until the last 15% of the book. Also the final show down was action packed.

I listened to the audio book narrated by Clare Corbett. It took me a good half of the book to get used to her voice. She also had a bad habit of whispering, making the narration so quiet it was hard to understand the dialog. Unless it was just the recording and not the actress? I'm not sure. ( )
  Narilka | Sep 16, 2018 |
Seemed like a good time to have a change of pace so I decided that 'Revenger' would be a good pick. Space pirates? Set in the far future? Two sisters who sign on only to help save their family from bankruptcy? Sure, why not.

Well, no. This was my first exposure to Reynolds and I had kept my hopes up in seeing the overall good rating on Goodreads. Unfortunately this was definitely a case of "Should Have Read the Most Helpful Reviews First" because those were right on the money. Apparently the book is actually a YA title, which surprised me. I'm "meh" on the YA genre but this one is definitely a stinker in the genre.

Right from the beginning I could tell it would be trouble. The writing seemed clunky and didn't really grab me right away. It was difficult to care about these two sisters and the main character was an immediate turnoff. An unlikeable character is not necessarily a bad thing, but the other stuff (another character, the story, etc.) had all better be compelling to keep me going. This wasn't it.

I suppose that it is supposed to be "hard science fiction" might have something to do with it but as 'Jurassic Park' and 'The Martian' are supposed to be examples of literary hard science fiction (and I liked the both of those!) I thought this would be fine. Nope. It seems quite a few people picked this based on their previous experience with Reynolds. Can't say I'll feel particularly compelled to pick up any of his other works in the future. Skip this. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Or: A Young Lady's Guide To Becoming A Space Badass

I'm told this isn't typical Reynolds, which is a shame as I loved it. This is hand-wavey space opera of the sort I love best, all glorious imagery and broad horizons. The set-up is practically Gothic, but the aesthetic is essentially steampunk.

While I have a few minor niggles (Adrana is very inconsistent; a few things are a little too convenient; the language never does get to feel natural), I was swept away by the plot once it hit full speed. It relentlessly delivers (with interest) on ideas that are set out early on; there’s no such thing as extraneous detail. This could make it feel telegraphed, but it’s beautifully choreographed so instead I found it incredibly satisfying.

Full review ( )
  imyril | Dec 19, 2017 |
This is, I think, supposed to be a YA novel – or at least YA-ish. The narrator is a teenage girl, in a planetary system populated by billions of space habitats, and which as been colonised in waves over billions of years. It is, it must be said, a pretty cool piece of world-building. Except… it’s all a bit steampunk. The spacecraft use light-sails to travel around the system, the technology is all brass and clockwork, except for magical tech artefacts left behind by aliens from earlier waves of colonisation… One of which are the skulls. Although the alien race whose skulls they were has long since vanished, and all that remains of them are bones, the technology inside their skulls remains active, and they’re all plugged into some sort of FTL comms network. Some teenagers can eavesdrop on this network, and send signals. Both Fura Ness and her sister Adrana have this knack. Adrana, the older of the two, persuades her sister to join her in running away from their financially-ruined father and making their fortune as skull readers. They join the crew of a ship that raids “baubles”, abandoned repositories of ancient alien tech (perhaps the baubles were habitats in the distant past, it’s never entirely clear). The baubles are usually secure behind impenetrable shields, but the shields occasionally drop for short periods, and some people are able to predict when these windows of opportunity will occur and how long they will last (again, it’s never made entirely clear why the shields should do this; because plot, I guess). Unfortunately, at their first bauble, the ship is attacked by a semi-legendary pirate, Bosa Sennen, who takes Adrana to be her skull-reader, and kills everyone else. But Fura hid, and survives. She vows revenge on the pirate, but her plans are derailed when her father has her brought back home and has a doctor halt her ageing so she will remain under-age and under his control. To me, that was the most horrifying part of the whole novel – Fura imprisoned by her age and society. Of course, Fura breaks free, joins the crew of a ship, engineers an encounter with Bosa Sennen and, well, there are no real surprises at the climax. As I said, the world-building is cool, but it’s never really convincing – and the baubles reminded me of something, A Deepness in the Sky perhaps? – and I didn’t really like the faux Victoriana. Fura makes for a good protagonist, but I thought the violence over-done. There is, I believe, a sequel called Revealer, due next year or the year after. I’ll buy it, of course. ( )
  iansales | Oct 21, 2017 |
I’m a huge fan of Alastair Reynolds and would have likely given this book 5 stars except for one particlaular annoyance which I’ll get to shortly. Overall this was a much quicker read than any prior books I’ve read of Reynolds considering I finished it over the course of 2 days. In Revenger, we have a carefully crafted tale of a young girl and her sister taking on the perils of treasure hunting in space when they mean to make back money their family has lost. All this is done without their father’s permission and goes wrong almost from the outset. The pacing is just right for a pretty quick read, with plenty of little hints and tidbits of information fleshing out the main protagonist, Fura Ness, and a few other characters. The universe seems well built with lots of hints to much, much more. Even the ancillary characters and races, only half hinted at, as well as characters that never really seem one deminison is a credit to Reynolds world building. Where I had the most difficult time navigation the book was with the vernacular of the future. I had a hard time attempting to attribute what I know with what I’m being told and not all of it seems to work, which is my biggest umbrage with the story. It almost seems as if this wasn’t as carefully written as his Revelation Space series or his other stand along books. However, if you’re a fan I highly suggest the read as it was a fun ride. ( )
  cranjetta | Oct 1, 2017 |
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"The galaxy has seen great empires rise and fall. Planets have shattered and been remade. Amongst the ruins of alien civilizations, building our own from the rubble, humanity still thrives. And there are vast fortunes to be made, if you know where to find them ... Captain Rackamore and his crew do. It's their business to find the tiny, enigmatic worlds which have been hidden away, booby-trapped, surrounded with layers of protection - and to crack them open for the ancient relics and barely-remembered technologies inside. But while they ply their risky trade with integrity, not everyone is so scrupulous. Adrana and Fura Ness are the newest members of Rackamore's crew, signed on to save their family from bankruptcy. Only Rackamore has enemies, and there might be more waiting for them in space than adventure and fortune: the fabled and feared Bosa Sennen in particular. Revenger is a science fiction adventure story set in the rubble of our solar system in the dark, distant future - a tale of space pirates, buried treasure and phantom weapons, of unspeakable hazards and single-minded heroism ... and of vengeance . ."--… (more)

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