Tuesday, May 22, 2012

[review] Chris Wooding - Retribution Falls (Tales of the Ketty Jay, #1)

Title: Retribution Falls
Author: Chris Wooding
Series: Tales of the Ketty Jay, #1
Publisher: Orion/Indigo
Format read: Paperback (UK edition)
Source: Won via Twitter giveaway
Buy from: AmazonBarnes & NobleBookdepository
Summary (via Goodreads):  
Sky piracy is a bit out of Darian Frey’s league. Fate has not been kind to the captain of the airship Ketty Jay—or his motley crew. They are all running from something. Crake is a daemonist in hiding, traveling with an armored golem and burdened by guilt. Jez is the new navigator, desperate to keep her secret from the rest of the crew. Malvery is a disgraced doctor, drinking himself to death. So when an opportunity arises to steal a chest of gems from a vulnerable airship, Frey can’t pass it up. It’s an easy take—and the payoff will finally make him a rich man.

But when the attack goes horribly wrong, Frey suddenly finds himself the most wanted man in Vardia, trailed by bounty hunters, the elite Century Knights, and the dread queen of the skies, Trinica Dracken. Frey realizes that they’ve been set up to take a fall but doesn’t know the endgame. And the ultimate answer for captain and crew may lie in the legendary hidden pirate town of Retribution Falls. That’s if they can get there without getting blown out of the sky.
Random paragraph: "There were two guards, in addition to the gaoler, though the prisoners rarely heard them speak. They were there to keep an eye on things. 'Just in case you try any foolery,' the gaoler said, with a pointed look at Crake. They'd evidently been warned that there was a daemonist among the prisoners. Crake's golden tooth would be useless: he couldn't deal with three men. His skeleton key was lying somewhere in the Ketty Jay's cargo hold, equally useless." (p. 334, Indigo paperback edition)

This book made me tired. Very, very tired.

Oh, fantasy. I used to love you. What happened?

Ever since everyone jumped on the GRITTY post-GRRM bandwagon, I've begun to slowly back away from you. You can have dragons. You can a world that still uses zeppelins. You can have demons, and ghosts, and magic. But for the most part, you still have to have worlds which are incredibly misogynistic, homophobic, and racist, because it "has to reflect reality."

This is bullshit.

And that's where we went wrong, Retribution Falls. I thought that you had a cool, albeit flimsy, world. I really liked the idea of daemonists and rake. I haven't seen Firefly, so I can't make any comparisons, but I thought I saw influence from Fullmetal Alchemist in places.

If the main character was Crake, we might've got on fine. If the main character was Jez, even better! But instead, we were stuck with Frey, who is -- quite simply -- a douche.

The moment he sees Jez, he thinks "well, it's a good thing she's not that beautiful, or else I'd feel obliged to sleep with her." The next female characters we come across? Prostitutes. And then, when we meet the other major female characters of the story, they're both exes of Frey. One of them was left at the altar, and then placed in a hermitage by her father; the other tried to kill herself after Frey impregnated her, miscarried, became a pirate by using her body and getting raped, and then became a Dread Pirate Queen and went after Frey.

Oh, and Frey blames and hates her for the miscarriage. You know. After he ditched her.


So. By the end, I was hoping it would get better, because Frey has a tendency to blame everyone else for his own problems, which multiple characters point out multiple times. But then there's this crap at the end about him reflecting on his lost child, dead "because of his parents' cowardice," and I just... can't. 

I liked Crake's storyline, I liked Jez's. I would've liked to see more of Malvery. I'm glad Silo pulled through, because otherwise I would've been really pissed off. But with Frey as the main character, I really couldn't get myself to like this book. I didn't necessarily hate it; I just couldn't care.

Overall: The cover is the best thing about this book. An action-packed story, but with very little depth.

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