Salvage by Alexandra Duncan
This book came to me exactly when I needed it. I was on a feminist jag for fiction where I was liking my romance turned down low and my who the fuck am I as a girl in this world turned on high. Though at first glance I may have totally passed this book by, if I hadn’t won it from an agents blog and one of my all time fav authors Kiersten White hadn’t been subtly or not so subtly poking at it on her tumblr, saying OMG go read this now, maybe not to me specifically, but it felt very directed. This is the underdog of awesome and amazing books I have read recently, and if I could put this in every girls hand out there, I would. Trust me, you need this book.
This book is full of the internal conflict, of who am I? Except she doesn’t outright ask that. Instead it’s this slow journey of things happening around her, and her sitting in observation of it, and knowing that she doesn’t really fit in where she started, but not knowing any other way either. Then of being disowned in a most cruel fashion and going on the run and ending up saved in a place she never saw herself. In this new place, this new beginning, these are her baby steps, her falling and crawling, and learning in a safe environment.
And then, it’s bang on to the next change that is happening to her, not of choice, but of circumstance. In the third part of the book this is really where she takes agency. Once again she has help along the way, but this is where you really see her coming into her own. Making decisions, facing her past, learning really who she wants to be.
The ending. What I loved most about the ending is that it comes full circle and she turns it down. Where she is at right now is so far beyond what she thought she wanted at the beginning. We can see the juxtaposition of how what she wanted in the beginning would have been an improvement on where she was at, but when it comes to the ending it would be a step back from where she is currently. Magnificent!!!
The language at first threw me off, and it didn’t stick until my second stab at the book, but oh did it stick. What I had first thought of as simple off kilter language, and crappy world building, turned out to be the cornerstones of what I loved so much about this novel. The language seeps into you and becomes this beautiful poetic simple and yet lilting voice for the novel. The world building takes such a vast scope and boils it down to what she is touching, and it is all these fine threads woven into her tapestry.
The only negative I will say though is this, the cover and the jacket copy do not do this book justice. While I understand both better now that I have read the book, neither of them are effective in getting me to pick up the book in the first place. Instead I suggest reading PW review on the authors blog: http://www.alexandra-duncan.com/books/
This book takes a look at a future society that has spaceship crews who have created this mythos for their lifestyle and have relegated the women back to the kitchen and the birthing beds and taken away their education. It is patriarchy and polygamy, and it had my gut rolling. But Ava, oh Ava, how I loved your transformation. How I loved that first love doesn’t have to be last love. How I loved that even as you observed your life happening around you, and even though the changes where thrust upon you, you still came out the other end a better, more whole version of where you started. The plot was not to rid the world of what had happened to you, but for you to come to terms with it. It was quiet and beautiful and an introverted kind of read.
This is the book that I wish everyone would read this year. This is the book that hasn’t had enough buzz. This is the underdog that deserves the spotlight. Go forth Salvage, and be saved.