Thursday, 12 August 2021

Review: Sirena

Sirena Sirena by Gideon Marcus
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Based on my positive review of Kitra , the previous book in the series (and, happily, it does look like becoming a series), the author contacted me to alert me to the fact that this one was going on Netgalley. He told me that, if anything, it was a better book.

I don't know if I think it's better (we are probably using different criteria), but it's certainly good. It's firmly in the tradition of the grand old early-Heinlein and Andre Norton space opera "juveniles," but updated; women exist (if you think I'm joking, read Norton's Sargasso of Space ), they have equal agency, and apparently all the crew apart from the alien are bisexual - though romance and sex are given passing mention and serve as an emotional complication during the action, rather than being a focus at all.

It walks a mostly successful tightrope between not allowing the tropes of the genre to pop up anything too egregiously against known science and not falling into the complexities of hard SF, which keeps the action moving. There were a couple of moments when I questioned the likelihood of a dramatic event that seemed to rely on engineers failing to think about safety measures to any degree whatsoever, or wondered why there were space princesses; I'm not generally a fan of princesses (literal or figurative) in fiction, and I find the idea of a revival, in a space-opera setting, of the long-superseded political organization that was aristocracy unlikely at best. It's a popular trope, though, and I ended up ignoring it, since it didn't affect the plot materially, and just enjoying the story.

There are tense moments, rescues, escapes, all the good action stuff, but with a cast that isn't made up of action heroes, so they have to work hard at it and there's always the sense they could fail. The plot does rely on one coincidence (arriving at the right place at the right time to make a difference, by complete chance), but again I'll let it go, because overall, this is a well-paced, varied, exciting, well-executed YA space opera featuring principled, courageous and capable protagonists.


View all my reviews

No comments: