Publication date: April 1st 2014
My rating: 3 stars
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?
Salvage was one of the toughest books to read, the beginning was what I struggled with the most. There was so much detail to get my head around and the way that everyone spoke in Ava’s world just took so much effort to understand. But I’d read a review which mentioned something which happened very early on, so I really wanted to know what the consequences would be next. I could understand why these two characters would assume that they were going to be married to one another and why they would do what they did and for me it wasn’t as if their feelings were insta love, okay we didn’t really know both characters properly but their feelings for each other seemed genuine to me. I didn’t like the way characters had to live in this world taking on wives and making them pregnant and moving on to the next. But I believed that Ava and Luck could have something which was stronger than what everyone else had and that maybe they wouldn’t follow down that same route that was expected of everyone else.
Despite not liking this world that Ava was bought up in Upside, I was glad to see Ava was given the chance to make the most out of her life away from Space side. It did take some time adjusting to a whole different lifestyle, but when you’ve been instilled ideas from a young age, it’s kind of hard to look past everything else. But thankfully Ava did manage to grow into her own character and fully grasp and take advantage of what was available to her. Also this is when we were introduced to two fantastic characters in Perpetue and Miyole. Perpetue and Miyole were exactly what Ava needed, they both took her on no questions asked and when she was still suffering from what had happened above. I was too still kind of freaking out about it. But for me this is also when the book picked up for me incredibly, we got to experience Ava on an incredible journey trying to make a life for herself, but being able to through help in unexpected places such as Rushil. Rushil was the sweetest person ever, he took Ava in when she was a complete stranger and helped her when things were tight for him too. It was easy to see that there could be a possible love triangle looming, and in parts it did confuse me at times, as I wanted Ava to find luck, I believed that there was so much more left to them, and so I didn’t want her wasting time around Rushil. But then slowly Rushil started winning me over, that I was like Luck who? And also I’m easily swayed by a character with tattoo sleeves! But then when Ava went on to try and find Luck I wanted her to find him and be with him all over again. I do believe that some readers would be annoyed by this love triangle, but the two potential love interests weren’t in the picture together at all, it was more pinning for a character who wasn’t there and overlooking the best thing possible right in front of you. But at the end of the day I think Ava made the best decision possible.
Despite this love triangle I was relatively able to enjoy Salvage; I enjoyed the chapters that Duncan wrote in Mumbai and the culture that Ava was able to take in. I also enjoyed the fact that Ava was given this chance to experience it, as otherwise I didn’t think that Ava would have been happy at all. Salvage was a book which could be a hard slog at times, but a book which I’m grateful I did give a go, so that I was able to experience the sisterly relationship emerge between Miyole and Ava and the watch Ava become the better person through sweet gestures that she had never had before.