Suited, by Jo Anderton

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Author’s website | Publisher’s website
Publication date – June 26, 2012

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) Tanyana has chosen to help the Keeper, to stand against the Puppet Men, but has she bitten off more than she can chew?

Thoughts: The story started in Debris (review here) continues with Suited, the second book in Jo Anderton’s Veiled Worlds trilogy. Tanyana returns to pry the lids off the mysteries surrounding debris , the Keeper, and the Puppet Man who are now doing more than watching and waiting.

This book picks up nicely where the previous one left off, with a fairly seamless transition from one book to the next. I confess to a little bit of confusion regarding some characters (“What, who was that again?”) but I suspect that’s mostly because it’s been a while since I read the first book. As I fell into the story, things came quickly back to me, and it was easy to lose myself in the anime-inspired future world that Anderton created.

I can safely say that if you enjoyed Debris, you’ll probably enjoy Suited, and if if Debris simply wasn’t to your taste, then avoid this one. Anderton’s style is revealing itself very clearly as being beautifully descriptive, with a good balance between dialogue and action, but damn, is the foreshadowing ever lousy! Remembering that Devich’s betrayal in the previous book came as absolutely no surprise, there was a similar character in this book, where I was just waiting impatiently for the big reveal that wouldn’t reveal a thing to anyone who’s actually been paying attention. Every so often I’d get my hopes up, thinking that maybe Anderton was going to play things out as though you’re supposed to think this character is a traitor but is really innocent, but nope, no such luck. This is Anderton’s main failing as a writer, I think. No ability to cast good foreshadowing. And what might be somewhat subtle in a series of half-hour animated episodes is really not subtle in a novel.

On the plus side, a great deal of information is given and expanded upon regarding the nature of debris, Halves, the Keeper, and just who and what the Puppet Men actually are. For all that Anderton can’t do subtlety in her writing, she has a great talent for world-building, throwing in layers of intrigue and depth that really keep you reading. The world in these books has a fascinating structure, history, and set of societies that are really entertaining to read about. That’s what keeps me coming back, I think. Wanting to see the layers peeled back and more of the world unveiled.

I will be reading the conclusion of this trilogy when it’s released. Its strength of storytelling didn’t quite compensate for the foreshadowing issue, but it can come awfully close sometimes, and I want to know what happens next!

(Received for review from the publisher via NetGalley.)

Debris, by Jo Anderton

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Author’s website | Publisher’s website
Publication date – September 27, 2011

Summary: (Taken from GoodReads) In a far future where technology is all but indistinguishable from magic, Tanyana is one of the elite.

She can control pions, the building blocks of matter, shaping them into new forms using ritual gestures and techniques. The rewards are great, and she is one of most highly regarded people in the city. But that was before the “accident”.

Stripped of her powers, bound inside a bizarre powersuit, she finds herself cast down to the very lowest level of society. Powerless, penniless and scarred, Tanyana must adjust to a new life collecting “debris”, the stuff left behind by pions. But as she tries to find who has done all of this to her, she also starts to realize that debris is more important than anyone could guess.

Thoughts: Even if I hadn’t read a description of this novel that said it drew many themes from manga and anime, I would have been able to tell. It was quite easy to picture this entire novel as an anime, and to that end, the themes and imagery were quite clear and creative, and I would have very much enjoyed watching it.

But some things that would be great visually don’t always transfer well to text, and I found this to be the case in a few instances of Debris Not that the novel was lacking or flawed in that sense, but I found myself thinking more than once that one scene or another would have made a better visual presentation than a textual one. This was particularly the case when it came to the character of Tanyana investigating debris. Many of the attacks and overloads of debris felt episodic rather than part of a flowing story, almost in the way that shows do when they fill half of their episodes of “new bad guy of the week” plots.

Still, it’s quite clear that Anderton has a brilliantly creative mind, and really put the effort into world-building. Creating the history of the world with brief tie-ins to our own history, culture-building, creating rich and interesting characters; it was all there, and it was a treat to read. Her writing and smooth and moved the plot along quite easily, and in spite of the somewhat episodic segments of the story, the pacing was also quite good, pulling the reader in and building layers onto the mystery of pions, debris, and the puppet-men who watched over everything that was happening.

Where it seemed Anderton fell down, though, was in foreshadowing. From the very beginning it was clear that Devich wasn’t all he appeared to be, and that although Tanyana had some friction with Kichlan (no rhyming pun intended), they were obviously going to sort it out and get involved with each other. Kichlan almost fit the “grumpy love interest” archetype to a T, and Devich practically wandered around carrying a sign reading, “I’m using you, Tanyana,” the entire time. Why Tanyana didn’t pick up on at least Devich’s motivations, I can’t say. She’s demonstrably not a stupid woman, but he practically tells her that he’s going to betray her at one point and she just brushes it off. Subtlty was not the name of the game in Debris, and it spoiled a bit of the reading for me. It’s hard to want to invest yourself in a character when you can’t help but wonder how she can be so uncharacteristically blind.

Still, for the few flaws it had, it was still fun to read, and I enjoyed Anderton’s writing and creativity more than enough to want to read the sequel when it’s released. While this may not be the book for everyone, it definitely had strong merits that endeared me to it, and I enjoyed following the plot and trying to figure out the mystery of debris and pions alongside Tanyana. I would recommend this book mostly to fantasy fans who are accustomed to the plot and imagery found in anime, as I think that would help them appreciate it all the more, and to those fans who are looking for an easy and fun read that doesn’t lack for mystery and talent.

(Book provided for review by the publisher via NetGalley.)