By all accounts, Sirantha Jax should have burned out years ago…
As the carrier of a rare gene, Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace—a talent which cuts into her life expectancy, but makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. But then the ship she’s navigating crash-lands, and she’s accused of killing everyone on board. It’s hard for Jax to defend herself: she has no memory of the crash.
Now imprisoned and the subject of a ruthless interrogation, Jax is on the verge of madness. Then a mysterious man breaks into her cell, offering her freedom—for a price. March needs Jax to help his small band of rogue fighters break the Corp monopoly on interstellar travel—and establish a new breed of jumper.
Jax is only good at one thing—grimspace—and it will eventually kill her. So she may as well have some fun in the meantime…
Grimspace immediately drew me in with its action, mystery, complex world building, and intriguing characters. Then something irritating and unexpected occurred: it turned into a romance novel. Normally I enjoy a romantic subplot, but, in this case, the romance between Jax and March happens way too quickly and takes up so much page time that I couldn’t help wondering, “When are we going to get to the actual plot here people?” Their early interactions are full of contradictions and their sudden feelings for each other don’t even make sense to me – it comes out of nowhere!
Not only is the romance unrealistic, but it also detracts from the main storyline. Instead of investigating the mysterious crash that’s at the heart of the entire plot, Jax spends all her time thinking about March. It was frustrating because I wanted Jax to ask questions and find out the truth, but she doesn’t do a single thing to unravel the mystery that first drew me into the story. The truth is revealed eventually, through no fault of her own, and Jax still doesn’t do anything about it. All she does is react to the events that happen around her and obsess over March.
I suppose it was interesting to read about a heroine who’s kind of an asshole. Seriously, Jax does some incredibly cold-hearted things that made me want to punch her in the face. But even though she’s not always likable, I do sympathize with her. Everyone does things they’re not proud of, and Jax at least knows when she acts like a terrible person. I had various other problems with the characterization of March and the supporting cast, but it would take too long to explain. Suffice to say that Aguirre could use some improvement in the art of establishing and growing her characters in a realistic manner.
Also, do not read this book if you dislike emo characters. Jax’s inner thoughts consist of loving/hating March, missing her dead lover, considering how screwed up she is, wondering when she’s going to die, and other equally depressing subjects. She and March are undoubtedly two of the most angst-ridden characters I’ve ever encountered.
Thankfully, the story is rescued by a decent ending. In the last forty pages, Jax manages to redeem herself, overcoming her imperfections and past mistakes. She shows that she’s changed from a selfish little girl into a true hero who’s willing to give up everything for the people she loves. We also meet a new character who turns out to be awesome and pretty much saves the day. The ending is well done and it definitely elevated my rating of the book.
All things considered, I did enjoy certain aspects of Grimspace, including the world building, the heart-pounding beginning, and a better ending than I expected. Since I finished it in a day, I guess you could also say that it’s a page-turner and it kept me entertained. However, the flawed romance and disappointing plot make Grimspace fall far short of its potential. Never say never, but it’s not likely that I’ll continue with this series.