Having read a few Alastair Reynolds books before, I decided to pick up his three Revenger novels: Revenger, Shadow Captain and Bone Silence, hoping for more of his gripping hard sci-fi adventures. However, I later discovered that these are actually young adult books and so are not quite up to the same standards as earlier reads.
…potential spoiler warning…
In Revenger we meet two young sibling girls, Adrana and Arafura Ness, who discover that they have an aptitude for bone reading, the hearing and interpreting of messages found in alien skulls. Keen to escape a life of poverty, the girls sign up with Captain Rackamore and his crew on the sunjammer ship Monetta’s Mourn, for a trial period of 6 months to learn the basics of the bone reading trade.
However, it’s not long before things turn sour for the young siblings, as Captain Rackamore encounters an old enemy, the fabled Bosa Sennen. Despite surviving Bosa’s attack on the Monetta’s Mourn, Arafura must now keep her wits about her and grow up fast. Especially if she seeks vengeance against Bosa, and has any hope of saving her sister, Adrana from Bosa’s strong influence.
My first impression of Captain Rackamore is that of a space pirate, searching and raiding for loot and buried treasure, and as a result he reminds me of Mal and the crew from Firefly, or sea-faring pirates like Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean.
The story is a bit slow in places, though it did seem to do just enough to keep me engaged and turning pages. I found certain aspects confusing though as terms such as baubles, or swallower, weren’t really properly explained early on, and I had to gradually piece things together as I went along. Similarly, I’m not entirely sure that I’m on board with the whole bone reading concept, as I’m not certain how it all really works, and as such seems a bit hard to believe.
Overall I thought the story turned out ok, it’s not very engrossing but yet on the other hand it’s not totally awful either. The main characters don’t stand out as being overly likeable or memorable, so it’s easy not to get too attached to them. I’d probably rate Revenger at about 3 out of 5 stars, enjoyable for the young adult science fiction fans that these books are marketed towards, but maybe less so for the seasoned aficionado seeking the hard sci-fi adventures that Alastair Reynolds is more known for.
Since I’ve got them I’ll continue on with book 2, Shadow Captain.