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Book Review: Grimspace by Ann Aguirre

* Genre: Science Fiction, Romance, Humor
* ISBN: 0441015999
* ISBN-13: 9780441015993
* Format: Mass Market Paperback, 320pp
* Publisher: Penguin Group (ACE)
* Pub. Date: February 2008

Grimspace by Ann Aguirre is one of those novels that you thoroughly enjoy reading. You wouldn�t tell serious fans of speculative fiction that you did, but you would spend an entire evening devouring it anyway. Billed as �romantic science fiction� by its author, Grimspace tells the tale of Sirantha Jax, a woman with the genetic ability to move ships through grimspace, a hyperspace equivalent. The story begins with Jax being held by her superiors for a crime she doesn�t remember committing, a crime that killed nearly a hundred people, many of them senior diplomats. In walks March, a rouge agent who is looking to recruit people who can move through grimspace. Casting fate to the wind, Jax escapes with him, setting her on a collision course with the Corp (her former employers), a company that holds the monopoly on grimspace transport.

Tightly woven and moving at breakneck speed from page one, Grimspace is funny and fun. Aguirre writes a novel that would translate onto the big screen as a romantic comedy. March and Jax�s relationship has echoes of the Han and Leia relationship in Star Wars. While they begin their relationship hating one another, through a series of circumstances out of their control, a romantic relationship is built. It is a classic story of two people hating each other only to find they truly love each other when their relationship is really put to the test.

The story is told entirely from Jax�s point of view, and the internal monologues that Aguirre gives her heroine are absolutely hilarious. From the beginning of the novel till things get rather serious towards the end, I found myself smiling at Jax�s reactions and comments to the events unfolding around her. Like Elizabeth Bennett�s thoughts on Mr. Darcy in Pride on Prejudice, Jax�s comments on March and the other characters have a wry wit and humor.

The pacing and the humor of the story allow the reader to gloss over a lot of its faults. For instance, Aguirre fails to explain how a society as advanced as the one she has created is unable to isolate the genetic component necessary to create people who can travel through grimspace. This inability is important to the plot, but Aguirre failed to make me believe that such a thing would not be possible. (Though perhaps this may be answered in the sequel, Wanderlust, due out in September of this year.)

Aguirre is also writing a novel that owes a debt to the bodice-rippers of the romance genre. There is one very explicit sex scene (I�m always uncomfortable with this, but it was easy enough to gloss over). Additionally, since it is a novel centered on romance, many of the interactions and actions of the characters have something to do with love and romance. One character lost her female lover, another (evil) character uses women, and of course there is the sexual tension between Jax and March.

Where the novel succeeds is in creating a fun, action filled story that I would imagine would translate well to the big screen. It has all the elements of an action movie. The heroine is broken but is also extremely strong-willed and gifted. She is no weak woman to be pushed around by a stronger man. The action is almost non-stop, and the characters move from one danger to another, with each successive danger being more and more difficult to survive. And finally, the climax is satisfying, as the evil people get their come-uppings and the heroes ultimately triumph.

Grimspace is the novel you have on your shelf when you need a little excitement, a little romance, but don�t want to work to hard to enjoy it. With the caveat that this is a romance novel in every sense of what that genre has come to mean, I recommend it as an exciting story of humor and action.

Grimspace is just pure entertainment, and anyone looking for a novel of depth or philosophy would do well to avoid it. But if you need a no-brainer novel with a funny and appealing heroine, Grimspace will give you what you are looking for.