Thursday, September 22, 2011

Review: Retribution Falls

Retribution Falls is one of those books that I've had my eye on for a long time, thanks to lots of high praise getting heaped all over it from all corners of the web.  I'm always leery when the hype is high going into a book, but every now and then I get a gut feeling that a book will be good.

This was one of those books.

I was pretty much sucked in from the get go with this novel.  It starts with a tense hostage situation, some ballsy roulette of the Russian variety, and a daring escape.  If the first ten pages or so don't capture your interest, there is a good chance this book isn't for you, but really I don't see how those pages could fail to capture even the stuffiest of readers.

Once escapes are made we meet the cast of characters who populate the novel and also serve as the crew for the Ketty Jay, an air ship of dubious repute. The crew, a kaleidoscopic mix of humanity, all seem to share a need to stay out of sight, and keep their pasts firmly behind them.  Darian Frey is the captain, mostly in title, as he runs a loose ship and is more likely to drink, gamble and wench than he is to give orders.  Malvery is the ship doctor with disgrace in his past, drinking to forget. Crake is a man of noble birth, skilled in the arts of daemonism. He too is running from a dark past, but his taveling companion is an armored golem.  Jez, the navigator, startlingly capable at her job, has a dark secret she'd like to keep quiet.  The rest of the crew which includes an engineer, and a couple out-flier pilots are equally imperfect in their own unique ways.

With the crew of the Ketty Jay on the run, and in need of some cash, Frey jumps at the first job opportunity which is seemingly too good to pass up.  The job -which promises a chest of gems as the pay off- requires a small act of piracy, but seems exceedingly routine and easy.   Frey's instincts may have shouted TRAP! but the promise of easy riches and a life of luxury are too hard to pass up.  When the attack goes horribly wrong  Frey and his crew find themselves wanted, and on the run from bounty hunters, and Century Knights.  Not exactly the low profile they had hoped to maintain.  As the Ketty Jay races for safety, they must also race to discover who set them up, and more importantly: Why?

At this point in the review I should make the obligatory comparison between Retribution Falls and Firefly, thus maintaining my geek cred.......................yeah, I must have missed that show when it was on back in 2002.  I don't think I even owned a TV back then.  You know what though, I think one of the main reasons I enjoyed Retribution Falls so much is that it didn't remind me of anything else.  Retribution Falls is one of those genre busters that is hard to pin down.  For what it's worth, I would say it is more science fantasy than it is steampunk.  I couldn't instantly categorize it, and I liked that.  A lot.

The characters were all varying shades of gray and for the most part, acted like actual people, not larger than life heroic figures.  Though I was more likely to find myself amused at their shitty luck than fretting over their dire predicaments, I related to and appreciated each crew member in a variety of different ways.

Not only is this a book of non-stop action, adventure and mayhem, but it's also a book with a solid sense of humor.  Though the humor element was touted elsewhere, I personally feel that the geek crowd is an easy crowd to get a laugh out of, so I sorta doubted I'd have the same experience.  It takes a rare book to get me laughing, but Retribution Falls got quite a few chuckles out of me.  Guess that'll teach me to be such Doubting Donald.

I could carry on about plot, and prose, but that would most definitely lead to more gushing about this wonderful novel.  For me, the key factors that made Retribution Falls stand out are the cast of characters, the exciting plot, and the genre busting feel of the whole she-bang.  For real, this book is great in lots of different ways, and is definitely worth a read.  Highly Recommended.

Grade: A


Seak (Bryce L.) said...

Yes! I knew this would be a good one. Wooding's got an amazing way with plot. I will definitely be reading this soon, thanks.

Ryan said...

Yeah, you should definitely give it a go. What other of Wooding's stuff have you read?

Seak (Bryce L.) said...

I've only read the Malice duology, which is a hybrid between a novel and a comic (which you should dig right) and it was awesome, if very YA. As long as you know that going in you should be fine.