Review: Salvage

Author: Alexandra Duncan
Date of Publication: April 1 2014
Pages: 520
Source: ARC from librarian (thank you!)

Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean, in this thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood.


There are many possible motivations for finishing a book. Salvage maintained by attention by making me curious. I wanted to know the ending of Ava's story, and explore the different societies a bit more.

When you have a book like Salvage, reading it isn't too bad. There was something about the story that always fascinated me. In a review however, Salvage will get much less credit. That's because it's a mediocre read. It's not bad in any way, but no specific component feels amazing either. When you consider the whole of the book, it is certainly adequate reading material, but I don't walk away really feeling impressed.

The descriptions are overly long, and rather dull. Salvage felt like an extremely long read with many unnecessary details. In all honesty, I didn't mind these extra nuggets of information just because I was reading Salvage to experience a world different from ours, but they didn't add much to the story. Everything was so wordy and it's ridiculous that the ARC I read had over 500 pages.

The story is very simple, without too many layers. Salvage is supposed to be a story about the development of Ava. Her life changes drastically as she struggles to find her place. I never felt really emotionally invested in the story, and I think part of that is how vague the plot was. I honestly didn't know what I was waiting for. There were no typical villains or story arc. Salvage's plot is more like waves. There are crescendos of rising action that lead to small climaxes, and then the story goes back to building up. The climaxes weren't that interesting. A few characters died, and looking back, Salvage was supposed to be way more tragic than it felt.

I think Salvage is comparable to a contemporary just by the way the plot kind of ebbs. It's about the journey, and it's not a bad ride. Salvage will probably be described as sci-fi, but it's really a very light sci-fi. The most fascinating part of Salvage were the sociological elements. For example, Ava and her crewe have interesting slang and customs. They live in a place where women are second rate, meant to be pure of the earth, while men can take multiple wives. Ava herself is destined for marriage, as she is "so girl" which I took to mean that she's someone important. There is definitely some culture shock, and that would be the fascinating part for me.

The world wasn't explained. Salvage introduces you to spaceside and a new Earth, and there's some vague mention of there being something wrong with the Earth, but there didn't seem to be any kind of real conflict that caused this issue. I really have no idea why the world in Salvage is the way that it is, and the author isn't obligated to tell me. These kind of details are appreciated, though.

One other cool aspect to Salvage is that it's a diverse read. There are different languages used, but so weirdly. For example, one character says "fi" and uses French words, except everyone speaks English perfectly as well. When different languages are used, they aren't spelled properly. Sticking with the example of "fi', it means girl in French and should be spelled 'fille'. I don't know if this deviation was intentional or not, nor whether it would be adjusted in the final copy. It was interesting, though.

I haven't really talked about Ava that much and that's probably because she wasn't too remarkable. Her character does grow and adapt, and I liked seeing that. She becomes more practical, and in some ways she's an infant but in others, she's strong and capable. I wish I connected with her more, because then Salvage could have been so much more enjoyable.

Salvage, overall, is a meh read. If you're looking for something a little different and light, it's worth a shot. I don't feel like it's a book that will elicit a strong reaction, though. I'm giving it 2 stars, but it's on the high end of that just because I was fascinated in the idea and managed to finish Salvage, which counts for something, right?



  1. So so tired of overly-hyped books that only lead to disappointments. This one, especially, with its pretty packaging.

    Sorry you ran into a buzz saw of problems with this one, PE.

    1. In fairness, I didn't hear of any hype when I picked this book up. I mostly thought it had a cool cover :p

      It's not awful, but I generally have higher expectations for YA.


  2. Hm. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We've been curious about this one, and it sounds like a very different kind of read -- which we can appreciate. Sorry it didn't work out that well for you, though.

    1. I think it is a little bit different, and I guess it didn't capture my attention all that well.



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