Perdition by Ann Aguirre
Ace, August 27, 2013 (Science Fiction)
My Rating: Outstanding adventure (5/5)
I picked Perdition up on a whim one weekend at work. I had read Aguirre’s Grimspace but wasn’t in love with the book enough to continue the series. But, for whatever reason I was looking for some sci-fi and decided Perdition fit the bill.
Perdition is set on a prison spaceship. The worst of the worst are sent to this ship in the hopes that everyone will eventually kill each other off. But this floating prison has more order than you would originally assume. There are six sectors and each is ruled very differently. Dresdemona “Dred” Devos hasn’t been ruling her sector very long when she acquires a interesting new convict, Jael, who is much more than his pretty face suggests, and just may be the most dangerous passenger on board.
When two other sectors threaten Dred, she’s forced to go to war. The question becomes who can she trust within her own “kingdom” and how can she possibly gain the upper hand when she’s out manned. Lucky for Dred, she’s got some loyal followers who have a few tricks up their sleeves.
To be completely honest, I was totally surprised by how much I liked this book. I didn’t expect the book to really centre around criminals – I was expecting more Robin Hood criminals, and that wasn’t here. This book was dark and everyone on the Perdition deserved to be there, including our hero and heroine (dubious labels to be sure). I didn’t expect that the book would actually focus on hardened criminals and I certainly didn’t expect to like them after I figured this out. However, there was something very compelling about these criminals and it demonstrated that good and bad is so obviously not black and white.
Dred herself was a very intriguing character. So often I read books that feature the “strong female character” but almost always those characters are vulnerable. To an extent, Dred somewhat aligns with that stereotype, but I feel like it was taken to the next level with her. Dred really was harsh, she wasn’t hiding a heart of gold, she is admittedly a murdered, so she was a bit of an anti-hero, which is a change for me. I haven’t often come across a heroine who’s motives and background is so murky. Clearly I need to be reading more sci-fi.
Jael was also an interesting character. I don’t really remember him from Grimspace so he was like a new character to me, which I think worked. I don’t feel that I’ve really missed out not having read the rest of the series, so Perdition can definitely be read as a standalone series. What I really liked about Jael was the fact that he wasn’t really human; he was a creation. I find this concept really interesting, and it’s been something that’s drawn me to other books as well. In the case of Perdition, I found it fascinating how Jael’s origins still made him vulnerable even though he was over 100 years old. He was a contrast of light and dark, hiding behind a sharp wit. Although, I will admit that I did find it strange that he seemed to have a British accent. Did anyone else think that? At any rate, I can roll with that even if I don’t understand why.
Overall, this was a great start to a trilogy and I sincerely cannot wait until book 2 comes out. I want to know more about life on Perdition and I need to know if Dred and Jael will get off the ship. And while the “romance” was not a main focus in the book, I’d really like to know if these two could ever have a real relationship together considering their past and their roles within the convict community. The relationship between Dred and Jael took a backseat, but there was just enough of it to keep a die-hard romance fan interested. Fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.
If you liked the leadership role Dred had and her ambiguous status as the heroine, check out Meljean Brook’s Heart of Steel. In Heart of Steel we’ve got a lady pirate who may or may not save the day. The romance aspect more heavy here, but in no way overshadows the adventurous plot.
Mongrel from Evie Manieri’s Blood’s Pride is very similar to Dred in that she’s also a very ambiguous character. Is Mongrel a hero or a villain? Personally, I’m still not sure, but book 2 has yet to be published, so that question is left unanswered. At any rate, this fantasy debut is fabulous.
Alliance Sworn by Kylie Griffin is probably the most similar to Perdition; however, the romance takes the forefront to a political subplot. Like Dred, Imhara is a leader of her people, and while they’re not criminals, Imhara has also has to put on a tough face to lead. This leadership dynamic is very similar to Perdition; so if you were looking for more romance in Perdition, Alliance Sworn would be a great follow up.