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REVIEW: Debris by Jo Anderton

REVIEW SUMMARY: Classified as science fiction, this will appeal more to fantasy readers who like character-driven stories.


BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Tanyana’s position as a respected pion architect comes to an abrupt end, forcing her to become one of the dregs of society, a debris collector.

PROS: Fascinating world; strong female protagonist.
CONS: Slow pacing.
BOTTOM LINE: It’s a promising debut novel.

Tanyana is an extremely talented architect, manipulating pions to create a huge sculpture of Grandeur for the Veche, when disaster occurs. Angry red pions, a kind she’s never seen before, attack the statue and her, causing her to fall from a terrible height. When she awakens, her ability to see pions has disappeared, instead she can now see debris, the by-product of pion work. No one but her believes that her fall was anything but an accident.

Such is the premise of Jo Anderton’s debut novel, Debris, a book which the publisher pegs as science fiction. The only real science here could be the idea that pions are atoms, but their manipulation, the collection of debris and the world itself feel more like fantasy.

Character-driven stories usually don’t appeal to this reviewer; it’s easy to be bored with the protagonist by the halfway point, inciting a desire to see more plot. Debris did not have that problem. Tanyana Vladha is a strong, and strong-willed, protagonist. She’s feisty without being b*tchy, able to ask for, and accept, help from others, even if she doesn’t particularly want to. And, despite the changes in her life, she never forgets what happened and never stops trying to find out more – actions that advance the plot enough to keep things interesting.

The nature of Tanyana’s relationship with Devich, the technician who helps her become a debris collector, is surprising and Tanyana makes a few unwise decision with regards to her life post accident. But given her trauma, it’s understandable that she’d want to hold onto the things of her success and fall for a guy who’s understanding and convinced she hasn’t really fallen from her former position.

Although the book was enjoyable overall, the pacing of it can be fairly slow at times. On the positive side, this allows the readers to fully immerse themselves in the world. But the pacing wasn’t too much of a bother; the characters were ultimately likable and there was enough in the plot to hold one’s interest.

In the end, the release of Debris marks a promising debut.

About Jessica Strider (102 Articles)
Jessica Strider worked at the World's Biggest Bookstore in Toronto for 10 years before it closed in 2014. Now she's got more time to read books, so check out her <a href="//">blog</a> for SF/F book reviews, movie reviews, posts about the middle ages, and more.

6 Comments on REVIEW: Debris by Jo Anderton

  1. So is this is a secondary world, the future of Earth, or something else?  Your review doesn’t quite make that clear.

  2. Nick Sharps // October 8, 2011 at 10:19 am //

    Is there action? It this an action novel? Other than the fantastical concept I’m having trouble deciding what it is…

  3. Jessica Strider // October 8, 2011 at 10:58 am //

    According to the back of the book it’s a future earth where society has broken down and pion manipulation has been discovered.  For all intents and purposes it could be a secondary world as there are no Earth monuments, geographical mentions or anything. There’s little to no action, as it’s character driven.  The novel is about Tanyana’s fall from her exalted position to a lesser one, learning about debris and how to collect it, and discovering why someone wanted her to fall in the first place.

  4. Nick Sharps // October 8, 2011 at 4:53 pm //

    A story can still be character driven and have action. 

  5. “A story can still be character driven and have action.”

    Very true.  There are a few exciting scenes where the debris seems to come alive and attack, but for the most part this book is fairly low key with regards to action.

  6. Nick Sharps // October 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm //

    Thanks, that’s more of what I was wondering πŸ™‚

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