Debris (The Veiled Worlds)
Series: Yes, #1
UK Publisher: Angry Robot
UK Release date: October 2011
Genre: Science fiction
Kindly given by the publisher for an honest review
In Movoc-under-Keeper, there are two types of people. Those who can see and work with pions, and those who work with the dirty by-product of pions, debris. Tanyana is a talented architect and pion binder, but when she falls from the grand statue she is building she also falls in status; losing her ability to see pions, she becomes a lowly debris collector, robbed of rank and career. As she adapts to her new life, Tanyana discovers that there may be more to the debris than she realised, and more to the Veche council than she suspected.
Review: First off I have to say I absolutely adored Debris and found it full of surprises. The futuristic setting and science fiction premise of Morvoc-under-Keeper was absorbing and enthralling – I could almost imagine that in our own world there are invisible pions driving the electricity and water that we rely so much on, and not far behind is the debris wreaking havoc. Whilst I'm not a huge fan of purely science-fiction books, Debris didn't feel like a heavy, overly descriptive sci-fi novel because I was swept away with the engaging characters and compelling plot.
Having fallen, both literally and socially, Tanyana’s situation is both pitiable and unjust. Whilst she hangs onto her former life staying in her luxurious house with little way of paying for it, I still admire her courage to ask for help and understand her feelings of injustice. She can be stubborn and proud, but if you’ve spent you’re life striving to create buildings of beauty, I can imagine that to be cast to the lowest levels of society would be hard to adjust to at first. The fact that she learns and grows makes the story so much more interesting than if she had taken everything in her stride. And to be honest, if I was her I would probably have the spent the first few months after the accident wallowing in self pity in my bed!
The idea of tagging or shackling to distinguish groups isn't new, but the suit that debris collectors are horrifically implanted with is intriguing and slightly gross. With a steampunk feel to them the suits connect to the body through physical bands at the wrists, ankles, waist and neck. Beyond this the suit also reflects her entrapment in society and her lowly job working with debris, acting almost like a badge of shame and reminding me of the old striped prison jumpsuits. There are implications that there is more to the suits and debris than anyone knows, and I hold out hope that in the rest of the series debris collectors won't always be as discriminated against as they are now.
Lad was one of my favourite characters, with his childlike openness and honesty and concern for 'Tan' as he calls her. The changes in his personality when he is confused or overcome with anger or sadness, meant that he wasn't just a static, flat reflection of someone with learning difficulties. Whilst most people saw Lad as damaged or crazy, I really admired the way his team fiercely protected and looked after him. In particular Kichlan, his brother, who selflessly sacrifices so much for him. Despite his initial gruffness towards Tanyana, I instantly liked Kichlan. You can tell a good man by the way he looks after his family and friends! There is also a very subtle hint of something developing between him and Tanyana, and I can't wait to see what happens.
As a debut novel, Debris is impressive; Jo Anderton has managed to maintain a balance that often tests science fiction and fantasy authors, by being able to describe such a wonderfully rich world without losing any of the plot or character development. Jo is very quickly becoming one of my new favourite authors!
You can read sample chapters from Debris here.