Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: The Dred Chronicles 1
Publisher: Ace, August 27, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback, 337 pages
Price: $7.99 (print)
ISBN: 9780425258118 (print)
Review copy: Provided by the Publisher
WELCOME TO HELL
The prison ship Perdition, a floating city where the Conglomerate’s most dangerous criminals are confined for life, orbits endlessly around a barren asteroid.
Life inside is even more bleak. Hailed as the Dread Queen, inmate Dresdemona “Dred” Devos controls one of Perdition’s six territories, bordered on both sides by would-be kings eager to challenge her claim. Keeping them at bay requires constant vigilance, as well as a steady influx of new recruits to replace the fallen. Survival is a constant battle, and death is the only escape.
Of the newest convicts, only one is worth Dred’s attention. The mercenary Jael, with his deadly gaze and attitude, may be the most dangerous criminal onboard. His combat skill could give her the edge she needs, if he doesn't betray her first. Unfortunately, that's what he does best. Winning Jael’s allegiance will be a challenge, but failure could be worse than death…
In Aguirre's most recent novel, the inhabitants of the prison ship Perdition battle it out for supremacy as the ship circles Earth, slowly falling apart. The ship has been carved up into territories and the novel's anti-heroine, Dred Devos rules hers with an iron fist. Quite literally an iron fist, as her armour consists of leather with long, deadly chains wrapped around her arms and legs. The other rulers of the ship are the things nightmares are made of making Dred appear almost soft and cuddly in comparison. Regular excursions into her territory have left her looking for the one thing or one person who will tip the balance in her favour. That one person is in the form of the lab born mercenary Jael. Jael is the newest recruit to 'team Dred' and do anything and risk everything to help her succeed.
Life on board the prison ship is a harsh, cruel place and about to get worse as the ship becomes one big battleground. Atrocities are committed on both sides and Dred controls her territory with more than just her willpower. Jael becomes pivotal in Dred's quest to keep her territory and take down her enemies. Jael is battling his own personal demons at the same time as fighting other prisoners on the ship and it isn't clear who will win either struggle. My only tiny criticism with this book was in the book summary and the description of Jael. He was so many things but he didn't come across as someone who would betray those around him, especially Dred. This minor thing is really quite trivial as Perdition has so much to offer the reader.
Aguirre excels in her world building and its easy to imagine the austerity of the crumbling ship, the terror felt by the new inmates of the ship when they realise they are entering hell itself and the pervasive lack of hope. She has also created a wonderfully, sinister mood with the battle for supremacy between Dred and the other psychotic leaders on the ship. It is very dark and the readers only reprieve is the dynamic between Dred, Jael and the other characters that form her inner circle. The power play is not all that it seems and snippets of inner dialogue tease the reader about what or who may be lurking around the next corridor.
While I love watching science fiction I don't always like reading it. Aguirre has me starting to doubt what I think of this genre and that I need to check out her other novels. I really enjoyed Bronze Gods that Aguirre wrote with her husband but I was still a bit unsure whether I would like a story set on a prison ship. Clearly I was wrong. I really, really liked Perdition. It had all the elements I enjoy from a super strong heroine, engaging and conflicted characters plus a big surprise in the plot towards the end that I didn't expect. I wasn't sure whether the story would drag within the confines of the ship but it in fact, almost became a character in its own right. Whether you are a fan of science fiction or not I challenge you not to like Perdition. I really looking forward to the next instalment in the The Dred Chronicles series and off to buy some more books by this fantastic author.
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