Genres: Science fiction, Young Adult
Salvage is a 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. This is literary science fiction with a feminist twist, and it explores themes of choice, agency, rebellion, and family.
Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated, conservative 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.
This is a sweeping and harrowing novel about a girl who can't read or write or even withstand the forces of gravity. What choices will she make? How will she build a future on an earth ravaged by climate change?
Named by the American Booksellers Association as a Spring 2014 Indies Introduce Pick.
Tina and I decided to try an interview style review for Salvage because originally I really wanted to read it but then I don’t know what happened I just sort of lost that shiny feeling and so she decided to read it instead. Essentially I was hoping this would re-ignite my desire to read it.
TABITHA: Can you give us a really brief summary about Salvage?
TINA: Salvage begins on board a ship where the “crew” (all of the people who live aboard the ship) are members of a patriarchal society. The main character Ava, a 16 year old girl was born on board and is used to a culture where becoming a first wife is something to aspire to, endless manual labor, and illiteracy are a lucky girl’s lot in life. She has very limited social experiences with people outside the ship. She learns she is to be married off and is extremely happy when she realizes she is to be married into a crew she has had contact with before. All of her dreams are dashed however, when she makes a teenage mistake and faces the death penalty, as she becomes worthless in the eyes of her crew. One brave woman that knows a secret to Ava’s past gives up her life while smuggling her off her ship and onto a spacecraft headed for earth. Ava is alone in a completely foreign world suffering from the effects of gravity for the first time in her life. But this is just where the story begins.
TABITHA: Is there anything particular about it that made it stand out in your mind from the many other YA books you’ve read?
TINA: The biggest stand out for me was that it didn’t follow the typical young adult book format. Ava begins as a typical main character, basic love interest, rough life, things begin to look bad, then start getting better. That’s where this story starts, then… life happens, and it feels like just the kind of thing that happens in real life. Ava has to grow in order to live. She has to get over the views on life and morals that were given to her as a child and open her eyes, she has to learn what HER life is about and where she stands when it comes to morals and what she wants. After feeling worthless without her crew she learns that she is worthwhile. This predictable flat person becomes a deep character in front of your eyes. It’s a book as a mom I would encourage my teenage daughter to read. That makes it WORLDS apart from many books in the young adult genre.
TABITHA: What would you say is the main focus of this book? Romance? – am I going to swoon?
TINA: No. Not at all, but towards the end you will definitely feel warm and cozy. Ava learns the difference between that first love the idealistic love, and true love the journey to coming to love someone after knowing who and what they are. As a reader you get to see both and watch Ava grow into and adult loving relationship with someone worthy of her time.
TABITHA: If you took away the knowledge given to the readers about the age of the characters and any other indicators about the target age group do you think it would be indistinguishable from an adult SFF novel?
TINA: Yes, and no. I think the language in the book is basic and the story flows fast and simple. However the undertones and the deeper meanings in the book might be lost on the younger crowd. The look at the patriarchal society, the different cultures of space and earth, and the overcoming the views your childhood taught you, are all deeper currents found in the book. I think these topics although not outright discussed in the book definitely lead to more adult thoughts and themes.
TABITHA: There seems to be some themes or issues that are covered in this novel – can you elaborate on them and how well you thought they were delivered?
TINA: I think I summed most of those up in the last answer, sorry about that. The delivery I thought was amazing. The author didn’t come right out and have the characters sit down and discuss these deeper themes. She shows you the patriarchal society and what it means to live in it, both as the main character, a girl and as a boy. She delves into the cultures and through her character lives out situations that make the reader think.
TABITHA: Just how well were the characters developed and what kind of characters were they? Am I going to be annoyed? Sympathetic? Want to face punch someone?
TINA: I’m not going to give away everything! Ava of course is the kind of character that makes you want to yell at her as though she could hear you through the pages. “NO AVA, don’t do that!!!” But as the book progresses you start to cheer her on, “YES AVA… good thinking!” some of the characters you really do just want to punch in the face, but for the most part the book is full of real characters, some you like, some you won’t and some that will make you cry (or at least come close).
TABITHA: So let’s have it – ultimately would you read this book again and can you think of at least 3 people off the top of your head that you’d recommend it to? For me this shows whether it has a really good broad spectrum readability.
TINA: Yes, I think I will return to this book. It will be interesting on a second read to see what I missed in those deeper undercurrents. I would and have recommended this book to a couple of moms I know of teenage daughters. I would also recommend it to you Tabitha as well as some of my other girlfriends that enjoy reading. I may even recommend it to young men, although and maybe I am biased here but I think it resonates with females a bit more than males.
TABITHA: Any other closing thoughts? Snappy blurb one liners for those that like it punched home in one line.
TINA: This isn’t your typical twilight story! The author does an amazing job of keeping the reader hooked with unexpected events and desperate situations. I really loved the way the story brought about the changes in the main character; I think I relate well to her feeling too old for her years. The author does an amazing job of keeping the reader hooked with unexpected events and desperate situations. I am normally pretty good at predicting these things; I was pleasantly surprised when certain events took place. Salvaged was a very enjoyable read from the beginning to the very end. A book that is a treasure to the Young Adult Genre.
*gasp* This book was provided by the publisher! No worries though it’s an honest review and all opinions expressed are my own. Quotes are taken from an Advanced edition and may have changes in the published edition. This post might also contain affiliate links. To view my full Blog Policy, click here.