Revenger Alastair Reynolds. Revenger is a science fiction and fantasy novel written by Alistair Reynolds.
The plot is set in the future. It is a mixture of remnants of modern society in an amalgamation of what life once was. Pirates venture into space and discover treasures and artifacts from forgotten civilizations.
In this world, the protagonists are two sisters: Fura Ness and Adrana. They are forced to join the scavenger crew of Rockamore’s ship to keep their family from bankruptcy.
Captain Rockamore lives his life discovering new worlds, old and forgotten planets that have been hidden by booby traps and complex force fields. Over the year’s the crew has amassed treasure but also enemies, and every time they go on a new expedition, they are risking more and more.
The sisters have the gift of bone reading, where space ships correspond via messages through the skulls of aliens.
Tragedy strikes when Rockamore’s enemy, the pirate Bosa Sennen arrives and tears the siblings apart where the younger sibling, Fura, has to find the strength within herself to save her older sister.
After reading the book, you realize it is not just a sci-fi but also a young adult narrative. The book is not marked for it, so many people may mistake it for being purely sci-fi, which it is not.
Alastair Reynolds’s imagination focuses on the character development of young people. It is about a person heading out into the world without being prepared. As is with life, something terrible happens to someone they love, and now this person must save them and take their revenge.
The book is a bit bumpy. Too many novel ideas have been introduced within the first book. We are assuming it is the first one as the end leaves a lot of questions for the progress of the storyline.
There is too much mystery in the introduction of ideas that take a while to grasp, such as reading alien skulls and the story behind the hundreds of civilizations that are no more, all over the galaxy.
Apart from that, Revenger is dramatic in its own way. Even though it is a young adult novel, there is no status quo relationship between a boy and a girl, but that between two sisters, which is equally heartwarming.
Fura turns from a pampered child in a sheltered household to a revenge thirsty and murderous leader of a pack. Even though it is an exciting development, it happens too fast and becomes a little unbelievable.
The main criticisms of the book are the way Reynolds has chosen to convey the thoughts of the two girls. You notice that he has purposefully tried to dumb down their dialogues. On top of this, he has introduced colloquialism everywhere, which is apparently part of his efforts trying to enter the new genre.
To be honest, the first red flag was when the two siblings decided to board a ship to outer space. Joining a crew without a care in the world or fear about what is to come or whether they are even up to it, knowing that they are not worldly and have been pampered their entire life. But they do it as if it was expected of them their entire lives.
The captain, with a reputation for a crew that has beaten the best of the best in his expeditions and adventures, hires them without any qualms.
Till the end, you wait to see what twists and turns the plot will offer, and maybe with that, some explanation about why what is happening is happening, but it doesn’t. It is too fictional, and even though the author has checked all the boxes synopsis wise, he has clearly struggled to make the book relatable with his written prose.
There is no hungry curiosity from the teenagers. There is this future world that Reynolds has weaved the elements of which are dumped to paint a picture that you may not understand. Even when Arafura leaves her old life behind, as one would be in awe of the new world ahead of them, not only is she not overwhelmed, she takes it passively.
She is not living an adventure, she is simply waiting to implode into a hard and murderous warrior, which she becomes purely out of the emotions she feels for her sister and with no strategic training or mind whatsoever. This becomes frustrating as the girl had zero emotional response throughout the storyline even when Rockamore’s ship is attacked by pirates.
Once you get further into the book, we understand why it has not been marked YA. It is because of the violent scenes that ensue.
But there is significant value to this book, and it is one that may recommend.
Revenger by Alastair Reynolds is available on Amazon. You can purchase the Audiobook for $18.65, the hardcover copy for $18.24, the Paperback copy for $9, and the audio CD for $20.
Revenger is the recipient of the Locus Award from 2017, despite that it is hard to compare it to many of the flourishing modern fantasy and young adult novels that are making real headlines in the literary world.
Alistair Reynolds has a large following for his previous books in the sci-fi genre. This is definitely different and is clearly a way to create a new fandom. As an old fan, you might find yourself conflicted.
If you read the blurb, there is exceptional potential in the plot, but it seems like little has been done to put the meat on the bones of Revenger. The lack of surrounding detail and the rushed storyline do not help. This could have been two books easily if written to the expectations of a typical YA novel.
Author Alistair Reynolds does have a way with the science fiction genre, but clearly not with a young adult series. While people are waiting for the next installment, which will change their view, a few have abandoned hope entirely in the Revenger storyline.
As always, when it comes to different forms of art, you should try it and make your decision. There are mixed reviews on this book, and those who love it, appreciate the way it is presented, those who don’t, simply move on.