Salvage

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How do we transform the wreckage of our identities? Throughout it insistently interrogates what it means to reach for our humanity through the guises of nation, race, and gender. Salvage invites us to be without borders. About the Author.

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I love this book's invention, as Dewi Oka summons up the courage to rage and grieve: 'Let memory make of me a scream that wasn't there. A powerful book.

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She reminds us that 'to salvage' is to, with profound effort, transform loss into possibility. In this way, the poems are species of invention and surrender, ceremonies of memory and reckoning. Over and over I am surprised by a diction this lucid, this precise, this feral. No one else writes like this. Add vitriolic race hate verbiage, and visionaries are bound to emerge. And despite its beginnings, there is definitely much that is inspirational about Salvage. It took a while for that to come into focus.

At the start of the book, I was intrigued but not impressed.

Alexandra Duncan manages to portray a believable world aboard a spaceship where the patriarchy has gone into overdrive. Still, like I said: not impressed. Why read another book about how the Earth has gone to shit and men are treating women even more poorly than they do now? Why not read a book where women are even more kickass than they already are and are sorting things out like they can totally do? Science fiction can give that to us. When I look at what this novel actually is, and the story Duncan actually tells, there is a lot to like about it. Ava is a complex protagonist, likeable and unlikeable in turns as she grows and comes out of the shell erected around her by the cult of her upbringing.

The characters who surround her are not always as complicated, nor is the worldbuilding much to remark upon; however, Duncan makes up for this in a richness of language, description, and emotional beats.

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Once I realized the Parastrata is a cult, rather than an example of the wider society, Salvage got much, much better. Essentially it means we need to look at Ava like someone who needs deprogramming from intensive brainwashing—all the more so because she grew up in this atmosphere.


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Her flaws suddenly have this additional layer to them: she is hesitant not just because she is unsure of herself but because she has been raised that women should act a certain way. In each of these cases, Ava apprehends a new way of looking at the world. She also learns more about herself, for as each character challenges her ingrained worldview, she must decide which aspects of their philosophy to make her own, and which ones to reject.

We all do this every day of our lives, of course, but in Ava the process is much more obvious, for she is in constant flux and crisis as a result of her flight from the Parastrata. I wish the characters had felt like more than mentors and examples, though.

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Miyole is an exception, and with good reason. Rushil probably annoys me the most. He seems shoehorned in as a love interest and alternative to Luck. That climactic moment when Ava must choose, after spending much of the book pining after, then searching for, her once-beloved, is very powerful. Similarly, Soraya basically functions as another mother figure for Ava, or maybe a kind of older sister: a responsible guardian, wise enough to give Ava some space and some leeway but also to impose a few rules.

The wider world of Salvage , too, suffers from this kind of glistening indistinctness.

Parastrata has exaggerated the toxic nature of the planet, especially for women, and Mumbai seems like a thriving urban centre. In particular, Duncan does little to outline the state of technology. There are apparently colonies elsewhere … in the solar system? Other systems? Similarly, there are spaceships capable of traversing such distances, as well as smaller ships capable of suborbital flight. But we get little sense of technological progress beyond that. Nevertheless, Duncan errs too much in favour of such reserve. There are some moments in this I just love.


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  • Ava rising to the occasion to take care of Miyole. The feeling of betrayal when Ava discovers that her grandfather joined the Parastrata crew as an anthropologist and fathered her mother essentially as a way to stick around rather than through any attachment. The corresponding feeling of relief when she discovers Soraya nevertheless feels responsible and even warm to Ava. So there are many feelings simmering beneath the surface of Salvage , and I have many feelings as a result. For all these great aspects, Salvage strikes me as quite rough. Update: Sound review Salvage was one of the toughest books to read, the beginning was what I struggled with the most.

    I could understand why these two characters would assume that they were going to be married to one another and why they would d Salvage was one of the toughest books to read, the beginning was what I struggled with the most. 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. 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.

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    But then slowly Rushil started winning me over, that I was like Luck who? But then when Ava went on to try and find Luck I wanted her to find him and be with him all over again. 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.

    This review can be found on The Readers Den Oct 01, Kelly rated it really liked it. I really enjoyed reading this book. At first i was confused by the author's writing but then after a while I got used to it and found it really original. The world building was pretty good and I liked getting to know these "crewes" even though the one she lived in was really unfair to women. At least, there were some great characters i enjoyed getting to know and the storyline was interesting.

    I wasn't bored. The thing i didn't like though was view spoiler [the fact that Luke got married to Lel I really enjoyed reading this book. The thing i didn't like though was view spoiler [the fact that Luke got married to Lell -or whatever her name was- and got her pregnant so quickly while Ava was strugling to heal from her travel in space. Yes, I'm glad he's okay and I loved him in the beginning of the book, but now I'm just glad she has Rushil to herself.

    He's such a sweet and funny guy. And he has tattoos, so that's just a bonus. May 10, J.

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