Book Review · Science Fiction/ Dystopia · YA Fiction

Salvage by Alexandra Duncan: Book Review

911TQC0lfLLAva, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean, in this thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. Internationally bestselling author Stephanie Perkins called it “brilliant, feminist science fiction.”

Ava is the captain’s daughter. This allows her limited freedom and a certain status in theParastrata’s rigid society—but it doesn’t mean she can read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. When Ava learns she is to be traded in marriage to another merchant ship, she hopes for the best. After all, she is the captain’s daughter. But instead, betrayal, banishment, and a brush with love and death are her destiny, and Ava stows away on a mail sloop bound for Earth in order to escape both her past and her future. The gravity almost kills her. Gradually recuperating in a stranger’s floating cabin on the Gyre, a huge mass of scrap and garbage in the Pacific Ocean, Ava begins to learn the true meaning of family and home and trust—and she begins to nourish her own strength and soul. This sweeping and harrowing novel explores themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family, and after a tidal wave destroys the Gyre and all those who live there, ultimately sends its main character on a thrilling journey to Mumbai, the beating heart of Alexandra Duncan’s post–climate change Earth. An Andre Norton Award nominee.

Not gonna lie, this book was really, really weird. I was actually considering dropping it after the first few chapters. The language was weird, the premise was weird, I just wasn’t feeling it. Anyway, I’m glad I decided on continuing it. This book was honestly, hands down the most unique YA fiction book I’ve ever read.

So, Ava was born on a spaceship called Parastrata. She was born and raised in space. They have everything there, food, water, all that stuff. On this ship, the women are made to do domestic things, like cooking, cleaning, taking care of livestock, and weaving. They’re basically bred to be the perfect wife when they reach maturity where girls are usually married off as young as 13. By the first couple of pages you can tell how the men dominate and run everything on the ship.

Ava’s father decides that it’s time for her to get married. He signs a contract with a partner ship to marry off his daughter. She gets dressed up, goes to the ship, and meets the man she is meant to marry- Luck. She’s met Luck before; when they were kids he visited their ship. On her first night on the ship, Ava has trouble sleeping so she decides to wander around the ship. Surprise! She bumps into Luck. He takes her to the swimming pool where they, um, got intimate. Okay, they had sex. Oh, and they got caught. Oops.

Luck and Ava are sent to the captain’s quarters where their fathers are. Luck tells them that it’s no big deal, that they were gonna get married tomorrow anyway, so what’s the big deal? Plot twist- Ava was supposed to marry Luck’s dad. That’s actually the most awkward thing that can ever happen. Caught screwing your dad’s fiancée.Yikes. Ava and her father are kicked out of the ship and back to their own. Ava’s father is so disgusted with Ava, he prepares her a funeral where she would be banished from the ship, into space.

While in exile, Ava’s grandmother sneaks her out of space, takes her to a space station, and gives her the name of her dead mother’s sister, who would take care of her. Not to mention that they are being chased the entire time. Another problem is that her aunt lives on Earth- Mumbai, to be exact. And Ava has lived in space her whole life. The chase is coming to an end, and a lady offers to take one of them- in where Ava’s grandmother screams that she takes Ava. Right when Ava and the lady are running away, Ava’s grandmother yells out, “…her name is Soraya Hertz. Don’t forget!”

It takes Ava a long time to get used to the Earth’s gravity. The amount of change she was exposed to in such a quick amount of time almost killed her. The lady that saved her, Perpetue, takes care of her while she heals.

And so her journey to find her aunt, begins.

This book was so unique. I don’t know if there’s any other word to describe it. It goes into topics that I haven’t seen a lot of YA books touch into. I enjoyed reading this book. There aren’t a lot of science fiction books that don’t make you want to roll your eyes- most of them have too much cliche and whatnot. Alexandra Duncan captured it all: Ava’s feelings towards Luck and her later love interest was amazing. You could understand what it meant to live aboard the male dominated Parastrata just by looking at her relationships with the different people in the book.

I loved the book’s ending. It was abrupt, sudden even- but that’s why I loved it so much. See, books these days always try to wrap up the story as neatly as possible, with everything folded back into place and such. That ideal ending is extremely unrealistic. I appreciated the way the story ended with all our questions answered, but yet allowed us room to ponder more. The same way I felt with Falls The Shadow, by Stefanie GaitherI hope that this book doesn’t have a sequel.


Last review:  Falls The Shadow by Stefanie Gaither

That’s it for now, until next time!! ✨



3 thoughts on “Salvage by Alexandra Duncan: Book Review

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