Saturday, February 15, 2014

ARC Review: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Title: Salvage 

Author: Alexandra Duncan 

Rating: 3 Stars

Release Date: April 1st, 2014


I really wish someone had told me about that BEFORE I read it, or even better, requested it. Just MAYBE this would have been a good instance to include in the synopsis that there was a LOVE TRIANGLE present. If there's anything I hate more than a love triangle, it's an unexpected love triangle.

ANYWAY, getting past that LOVE TRIANGLE (*rages*) Salvage was only moderately decent. I might as well call myself a critic of science-fiction/fantasy because of how picky I am about the genres and Duncan's debut doesn't live up to the mark. Ava, our protagonist, starts her journey on the space ship where she lives in a dominant patriarchal society. So dominant, in fact, that the women are kept illiterate and expected to perform household duties. Futuristic? Um, try prehistoric. While I appreciated that this divide was starkly outlined, evident even in mythology that told of women misbehaving and causing disaster when given too much freedom, the feminist growth arc Ava undergoes after leaving her home behind left much to be desired.

On her home ship, Ava is told that she is to be a bride soon. Ava hopes - desperately - that it is Luck, the brother of her friend, Soli, who she has only met once. When they meet again, Ava and Luck's feelings for each other are strongly existent, despite the time they've spent apart. Unfortunately, however, a tragic series of accidents leads to Ava being thrown off her space ship and back down to a polluted, dying Earth. If you couldn't already tell from my description of Romance #1, it's little more than insta-love. Yet, Luck does see Ava as a woman capable of learning the tasks of men and Ava, after living a sheltered life submissive to men, is naturally drawn to Luck who sees her as more than a mere child-bearer. On Earth, however, Ava must attempt to survive and her primary objective to find her aunt who resides in Mumbai.

Once on Earth, the narrative of this novel drags, becoming increasingly boring. In fact, I am almost positive I spaced (no pun intended!) out on more than a few occasions. As such, I can only be 99.9% certain in my claim that the world-building on this futuristic Planet Earth is limited. While the evidence of its decline is glaringly obvious, I remain puzzled about the nascence of the communities aboard space ships, not to mention why there is such a large population still on Earth when they could be living in space. Moreover, what made the communities aboard these space ships believe that they needed to go backwards in time after making so much modern-day progress in the women's movement? I wish Duncan had spent more time exploring these corrupt politics aboard these ships instead of focusing on the romance story line. After Amy Kathleen Ryan's Sky Chasers Trilogy, I've realized that the scope to be explored aboard a space ship is far more than most authors would lead their readers to be believe and, on that front, I was disappointed by Salvage.

Nevertheless, on Earth Ava does come to recognize the inconsistencies with her previous life. While her transition into a bad-ass feminist is rushed, it is still present which is a relief. Ava forges many strong bonds with characters she meets on her journey to find her aunt in Mumbai, but I wish those secondary characters could have come into their own a little more instead of the focus remaining solely on Ava's characterization. Once in Mumbai, though, my issues began to arise with Duncan's setting itself. I've been to Mumbai and though the landmarks mentioned are accurate, as are the mention of elephants, I found that the rich atmosphere of Indian culture that pervades every part of India to be missing. In The Lost Girl, Sangu Mandanna does a brilliant job of capturing the essence of Bangalore, the city where part of her novel takes place. Sadly, the essence of Mumbai isn't portrayed the way I'd have liked it to be in Salvage and instead of connecting to a setting I'd been to, I felt distanced from it instead. (Of course, this is a personal qualm I have as I've been to India many times, so I'm sure most readers will not struggle with this.)

Of course, Mumbai brings us to Love Interest #2 and, honestly, I just did not see this coming. I don't know why. I figured that since this novel is a stand-alone and Ava was so hung up on Luck throughout the novel, there couldn't be anyone else for her. WRONG. I saw Love Interest #2 as a genuinely sweet FRIEND to Ava, so to find that this character was actually a love interest in disguise shocked me. It's a sweet romance, but one I found rather unnecessary to the plot line as it is given such minimal screen time. Instead, it is the friendship that is developed well and I wish this novel could have remained that way. Not because I'm Team Luck, but because I'm Team Ava. I enjoyed the conclusive ending of this novel, though, and am thankful the love triangle is wrapped up quite neatly and very tastefully, actually empowering Ava.

Ultimately, though, Salvage is a character-driven novel where I didn't feel much for the characters. I love the world Duncan has created and I wish she had spent more time detailing this universe to the reader and exploring intriguing plot devices within the different nooks and crannies of her richly imagined future. Instead, I found myself flipping these pages rather dully, looking up with excitement from time to time but mostly reading this as a disengaged individual. Salvage isn't a spectacular debut and for fans of science-fiction, I wouldn't recommend this. On the other hand, though, if you're just looking for an innovative new read, this novel does the trick.


  1. It would've been cool if Ava decided that she was a strong independent woman that doesn't a man, but that doesn't happen often in YA. She could've kicked them both to the curb and it would've probably been a way cooler book. This book is just so pretty, but I'm not surprised by the content you've mentioned in your review. It sounds like the writer focused on cliches and went with it. Great review, Keertana!

  2. ..I kind of can't get away from the love triangle now

  3. Aww, I'm also a picky reader for science fiction books. Most of the time I just couldn't invest myself to the characters or the world is too weird for my liking. The characters seem okay, but it's too bad the author doesn't include more details for the world in this book! I think I'll pass this book for now. Thank you for your honest review, Keertana! :)

  4. Ouch, yeah if there is one thing worse than love-triangle is unexpected love-triangle. One would believe that people realized by now that love-triangles are big no-no. I do agree also that the whole keeping women illiterate is more prehistoric than futuristic. This book sounds interesting but now I know that there is love-triangle so I'll let it pass. Great review, Keertana :)

  5. No no,no . I hate unexpected love triangles and I despise insta love . I think I'll skip this one . I really should pick Amy katleen Ryan 's books .tnx 4 the review

  6. I'm okay with a love triangle in some instances, but not if it clearly appears to be a friendship. I don't know if this is a series, it sounds like it isn't so I don't know why the reasons for the world being the way it is aren't given (I hate that) or if the women on the spaceships are given their independence. That would bother me. I like my characters a lot. Too much to read a book that doesn't have ones that I'd cheer for. I really wanted to read this one. I think I really like the cover. And I'm mad at the way Ava was treated. But now, not so much.
    Great review! Thanks!

  7. Sneaking in a love triangle would tick me off. Especially when it seems it came out of no where, and it sounds like there was no foundation set for a romance with the friend anyhow. I like that this is a stand-alone, but I'm just not that interested to pick this up, more so after reading your review. Wonderful review, Keertana. :)

  8. This is the first I've heard of this and while the space aspect draws me in, the love-triangle and the way the society is set up does not. I was discussing this with a friend, These Broken Stars is also a futuristic story yet they dress like they're in 1910.

  9. So I kinda face palmed when you said love triangle. *cry* WHYYYY

  10. "If there's anything I hate more than a love triangle, it's an unexpected love triangle."

    You and me both, Keertana! I haven't really been paying this one much attention - I didn't even know what it was about until now - but I'm not sure that it would work for me. It sounds like it has a few too many underdeveloped areas that would get on my nerves. Still, I'm glad it wasn't terrible! Thanks for the helpful review as always. :)

  11. oh god no.. i don't know how much more love triangles I can take...seriously.. I was reading the review till that part and then it left me cringing..cause it almost sounded like a decent read.

  12. Thanks for the warning. *cries* I just won an ARC of Salvage. It still sounds fun. In my opinion, love triangles usually suck, but for some reason I hold out hope.

  13. haha, this review made me grin :D

    i dont mind a love triangle. if it's actually geniune and conflicted. but maybe that is bc i dont read paranormal or many dystopians so i am not burnt out from them?

    love mandee's comment above. that's so true about these broken stars. meant to be futuristic but somehow they've half reverted to the dark ages. so weird. but, hey, whatever.

  14. We already talked about this book. But I am OVER LOVE TRIANGLES especially when they come unexpectedly. They ruin almost anything for me, but would be even worse in a story that isn't excellent to begin with. THANK YOU for reading this one before me and warning me! I owe you one.

  15. haha I'm sure Lauren agrees with you that books should have a love triangle. I think books with insufferable love triangles should bear a warning, but if there's a hint of one, I'm more or less okay with it. I'm guessing this is a more insufferable type of love triangle than most, though?

    Your rating almost seems a bit more positive than the words of your review themselves do. Apparently I'm a bit critical of my science fiction picks myself, so this is probably a story that's best for me to avoid. Thanks for the honest review, Keertana!

  16. THANK YOU for mentioning the love triangle. This already was on my maybe-read list, but I think I'll just pass on this one. This sounds pretty mediocre, actually.

    Lovely review!


I love hearing from my readers and I read, reply, and appreciate every one of the comments I receive!(: If you're a fellow blogger, please leave a link to your blog - I'd love to drop by!

Unfortunately, this is now an award-free blog. I simply do not have the time to respond and forward on the award, but I truly appreciate the nomination regardless.