Grimspace by Ann Aguirre
Book 1 of Sirantha Jax
As the carrier of a rare gene, Sirantha Jax has the ability to jump ships through grimspace-a talent which makes her a highly prized navigator for the Corp. Then a crash landing kills everyone on board, leaving Jax in a jail cell with no memory of the crash. But her fun's not over. A group of rogue fighters frees her...for a price: her help in overthrowing the established order.
Perhaps I'm sexist, but it feels like the sci-fi books I've read written by women are just better (for me) than those written by men. Perhaps (and far more likely) my sample size has just been too small. Whatever it might be, Ann Aguirre's Grimspace was far more enjoyable to me than the previous two books I've read.
The story starts with a prison break and jumps madly from one misadventure to another, never dwelling long on any one situation. Though each scene has its own tension and excitement, there doesn't seem to be a logical arc to the story, tying the conflicts together. There is lip-service paid to fulfilling the dream of a (deceased) character, but for the most part it's a lot of Sirantha Jax coming to terms with her past and making googly eyes and/or snarky comments at her copilot.
If you're looking for a drool-worthy ship, this probably isn't the book for you. From the very first scene where March appears, there is no doubt that he and Jax will end up in the sack. It's not even subtle enough to be a "definitely, but when" sort of thing, but rather a "before the first half of the book" sort of thing. Protip: when you have a heroine with emotional vulnerability, it's almost a given that the first guy who merits more than one sentence of description will be the one she becomes romantically entangled with at some point. It's far more common in romance novels than others, but it's certainly true here.
As for plot - this book reads like the novelization of a video game in the best possible way. There is an initial "goal" suggested at the beginning of the book, but that pretty much flies straight out the window as soon as there are kidnappings and alien attacks and stuff like that. The PC (in this case, Jax) keeps picking up party members, solving mini-quests for NPCs, and gaining experience points. The overall story arc never really resolves the initial "goal" and that ends up not mattering. Despite all of this aimlessnes, it's pretty solid. I never really knew where the story was heading, but it was so fun it's hard to care.
Will I continue reading the series?