“We all have it in us to be something other than what we are, I thought, but we don’t often get a glimpse of what we could have been”
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4 / 5
Alastair Reynolds is a pretty big name in sci-fi, but I’ve never actually read anything by him before. Well, that all changed with Revenger. Though, as I understand it, classically an Adult Sci-Fi writer, Reynolds mixed it up a bit with a YA novel. Revenger perfectly slots into that 16+ YA gap, for those younger readers that want to read something a bit more complex and sophisticated, and those adult readers (like me) who want something a bit less technical and easy to read.
“Could kindness – by only ever taking little steps – twist itself into the worst kind of cruelty?”
Arafura Ness is a lass who is doing alright for herself. Until her older sister, Adrana, convinces her to sign on as a bone reader for a ship. Captain Rackamore takes on the two girls (Adrana is eighteen, Fura seventeen) to read the bones: they use a neural bridge to hook up to a skull in order to transmit and intercept messages across space. Leaving their ailing and troubled father behind, the two become part of the crew, part of the team that traverses space looking for treasures from times long past.
One thing that I loved about Revenger is that I was never entirely sure where the plot was going. When Fura joins the crew, I thought I had a classic tale on my hands of the ups and downs of raiding for treasure in space. There was a classic kind of problem that transforms Fura Ness from young, naive booklover to hardened, one-armed, woman. But I never felt like I was very sure where the book was headed, and Reynolds never took a traditional route to his story. It kept me on my toes.
Revenger has some polarised reviews. Personally, I enjoyed it a lot. Part of that was due to the excellent narration this book received in the audible version. Part of it was the twists and turns. Another was Fura herself, who went on such a journey. She’s a character who is admirable and brave and real, who makes questionable choices and who you don’t always approve of. But she feels real and I rooted for her.