Suited by Jo Anderton – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2013 Reading Challenge. All my 2013 AWWC reviews can be found here.


Suited

Suited by Jo Anderton is the second in the Veiled World series of books (see my previous review of the first book in the series, Debris, here).

Suited follows the continuing adventures of Tanyana, former elite manipulator of pions, now reduced to cleaning the magical debris left over from their use. Having taken the side of the Keeper (the mostly invisible manager of debris) against the mysterious Puppet Men, Tanyana finds herself the uneasy ally of the rebellion element in the city of Movoc-Under-Keeper as well as fighting an internal battle against her own debris collection suit.

Once again Tanyana is a very conflicted character – constantly questioning herself. At first I was concerned that she was going to spend a lot of time moping about, but as the psychological influence of her suit becomes clearer, the conflict behind the self-reflection becomes more evident and is more satisfying as a result.

In fact, the suit takes on enough personality to be considered a character in its own right in this book. I liked the balance between the power the suit provided Tanyana, and the cost of accessing that power. It made Tanyana more engaging.

The secondary characters are still fairly lightly drawn, but I did feel that some of the characters closest to Tanyana were filled in more solidly in this second book, in particular the character of Lad.

As is often the case with sequels, we learn a lot more about the world and what is going on with the supernatural, traumatised Keeper and the nasty Puppet Men. This is the part of the story that hooked me most – trying to puzzle out the mystery of exactly how this world is constructed. Tantalising hints are sprinkled through the story, including references to “programmers” (unusual in what is on the face of it a secondary world fantasy!). This central mystery, more than anything else, is what will bring me back for the third book in the series (which, as far as I can tell, isn’t released yet).

In Debris I occasionally found that the pace dragged, but didn’t have that sensation with Suited. Some excellent action scenes are interspersed with the more character driven scenes (in fact the scenes where Tanyana cuts loose are quite something to be seen).

All in all I enjoyed Suited immensely. Looking forward to the next volume!

Recommended.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.


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This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.

 

Debris by Jo Anderton – review

This review forms part of my contribution to the Australian Women Writers 2012 Reading Challenge.


Debris is the debut novel from Jo Anderton, a Sydney based author.

This story has an interesting premise – a world that has been built around a form of magic, the manipulation of tiny particles called pions. The resulting society is not your typical medieval high-fantasy arrangement, rather represents an alternative development path that has incorporated pions into technology to reach a more urban level of development. I’d almost classify it as having a steampunk sensibility, that mixture of cool “technology” that can do some fantastic things, but with a slightly old fashioned feel.

The main character, Tanyana, is one of the elite in this world, able to manipulate pions to an astonishing degree. She is an architect who, with a linked circle of nine assistants, is able to use pions to create buildings and monuments of astonishing scale and aesthetic. She is in the middle of creating her greatest work so far when something goes horribly wrong. From her perspective she is attacked by “angry” pions. From everyone else’s perspective she loses control. When she wakes up in the hospital she has lost her ability to see and manipulate pions, but can now see the debris that pion manipulation leaves behind. The hospital also bonds her to a silver metal substance that can morph to create a suit or crude weapons which she can use to collect the debris.

This immediately catapults her from the highest tiers of society to the lowest – the ability to see and collect debris is considered a necessary but “dirty” profession. The rest of the story documents her struggle to accept her new role amongst the have-nots and work out what happened to her.

Character development of Tanyana is strong with a realistic, if irritating at times, reaction to such a major fall from grace. The slow development makes some of the later revelations more powerful, even if you feel like yelling at Tanyana to snap out of it at times. The story focuses almost exclusively on Tanyana, so other characters are not as well developed but enough is sketched out for the purposes of the story and perhaps future novels.

The relationships Tanyana formed with those immediately around her were generally adequately developed as well, although I thought one of the more romantic relationships didn’t read as well as the others. It made the eventual resolution of that relationship have less of an emotional impact for me, but this is a minor quibble.

I found the world building interesting. Details of the world, its background and history, as well as information on how the magic works, were sketchy. I didn’t mind this – I enjoy books that fill in the background gradually as you go. If this was a stand alone book, I would have felt a little dissatisfied with the amount of detail provided by the end. As the first book in a series, I guess I’ll just need to buy the sequel to find out more!

The plot moved along at a reasonable, but not particularly fast, pace. There were a couple of points at which I did find myself thinking that Tanyana could spend a little less time moping and a little more time getting on with things, but that probably says more about me than the novel.

It should be noted that Ms Anderton has also released a free short prequel story to Debris on her website. It gives a taste of the events leading up to the start of Debris – you don’t need to have read it to enjoy Debris, but it does set the scene for what is to follow.

So, I enjoyed this novel and will be reading the next in the series, Suited, when it is released by Angry Robot later in the year. Nice writing, good core idea and a world that I am very curious to find out more about.

I also reviewed this book on Goodreads. View all my reviews.


Creative Commons License
This work by Mark Webb is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Australia License.