Middle Child Press: Review: Tangled Axon: Ascension

2.03.2014

Review: Tangled Axon: Ascension

Sometime last year, JVNX sent me a link to an eBook by Jacqueline Koyanagi.  One glimpse at the cover and I KNEW I was going to purchase it.

Ascension: A Tangled Axon Novel by Jacqueline Koyanagi


This is NOT something I see often, and I’m compelled to throw virtual money at any sci-fi/fantasy (any genre, really, except hood lit) story that features a sistah on the cover.  Especially a cover as nice as this one.

Now on to the story.  Alana Quick is a sky surgeon (aka engineer) who dreams of engines and desperately wants to serve on a starship.  She suffers from a condition similar to fibromyalgia, and cannot afford to get the treatment she needs.  When the story opens, Alana is working in her and her aunt’s junkyard when an old Gartrik vessel lands in search of her spirit-guide sister, Nova.  Alana decides to stow away on the ship, the Tangled Axon, on the suggestion of the ship’s doc, Slip.  Once she is discovered, the adventure begins.

When Alana is on board the ship, she falls hard for the captain, a tough blonde named Tev Helix.  Tev’s reason for wanting Alana’s sister has to do with saving the ship’s pilot, Marre, who suffers from a bizarre but fascinating malady.  Alana has to prove herself, but since the Axon already has an engineer, a giant wolf/man named Ovie, and Alana starts her career on the ship with a lie, the deck is stacked against her.  Then the crew of the Axon finds themselves fugitives from the law and must work to clear their name.


I want to go on record and say that while I liked this story, it could have been far more enjoyable had Ms. Koyanagi been clearer in her endgame for the book.  In my opinion, the novel is more about Alana trying to find her way into Tev’s bed than about resolving the issue regarding Marre or clearing their names of genocide.  Not to say that these things don’t happen; they just get lost in the melodrama of Alana’s feelings for Tev.  Frequently and often, I was treated to vivid descriptions of her lusting after that woman, and for a long time, to no avail.  It became exceedingly tiresome. 

Eventually, they become involved.  What effect does this have on the outcome of the plot?  Not a damn thing.  Adding the fugitive plot device was unnecessary.  When the resolution came, I just didn’t give a shit about it.  It felt as if the author was so focused in getting Alana together with Tev that she lost her direction when it came to resolving the plot…and had to hurry up to find it.  I’d have to say that, based on my response to the ending, she didn’t.

I inferred from the author’s bio that she is involved in a polyamorous relationship.  This explains a lot of what happens with the crew of the Tangled Axon.  I have absolutely no problems with polyamory; I’ve written a novel of which that was the focus.  Had Ms. Koyanagi made this relationship the focus of her book, the story would have been a lot better and a lot stronger.  Ms. Koyanagi is at her best when she’s writing people; Alana’s interactions with Tev, Slip, Ovie, and most importantly, her sister Nova, are realistic and believable.  I personally think Alana fell in love with Tev WAY too fast (and I don’t know why she did), but the two of them together are written well. 

I think that Tangled Axon: Ascension is the first in a series of books (don’t quote me).  If the author chose to focus the book on how Alana came to be a member of Tev’s crew and how the nature of an already complex relationship evolves to include her would have served as a wonderful introduction to the series.  There is a point in the story where it is acknowledged that if Alana really wants to be with Tev, then she has no choice but to share her…and Alana, being Heliodorian, is not quite 100% okay with that.  I found this whole bit intriguing, but unfortunately Ms. Koyanagi glosses over this glaring nugget of reality, taking the entire thing into the pink frosted realm of unicorns and rainbows. 

I do, however, believe that if there is a second book in the series, it is going to be much better than Ascension.  Ms. Koyanagi’s world has me intrigued and I look forward to reading more about it.