Author: Ann Aguirre
Series: Dred Chronicles, #1
Release date: August 27th 2013
Mass Market Paperback, 337 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
WELCOME TO HELLThe 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…
Back when Perdition was first mentioned, pitched as Prison Break in space (I kid you not), I immediately knew it would be a dream come true. Because seriously, violence and mayhem, Ann Aguirre style? In space?! Give me that, and then give me some more! So when it finally found its way into my greedy little hands, I was basically in ecstasy. And I remained in an absolute state of bliss throughout.
While this trilogy may be a Jax series spin-off, readers who aren’t familiar with Jax won’t be at a loss at all. It is entirely possible to read (and fully enjoy) this separately. Details that were previously known about Jael get reintroduced pretty quickly in Perdition so that everyone is at the same place. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t find the time to read Jax – you should – but it’s not a prerequisite.
Space station known as Perdition houses only the most hardened of criminals. The people imprisoned there are no small-time thieves, rapists or murderers. It takes a truly heinous crime (or hundreds of them) to get someone a one-way ticket to Perdition from the Conglomerate. ‘Innocent’ is not a word that gets thrown around often, not even for our heroine, Dresdemona “Dred” Devos.
Taking the reader on a space station where not a single redeemable character lives may seem like a simple thing, but believe you me, it’s an enormous challenge. We are all, each of us in a slightly different way, emotional readers, and we love to feel sympathy for our characters, but it takes a brilliant author to make us feel sympathy for mercenaries and mass murderers.
In some ways, Perdition is the darkest Ann Aguirre book yet – not because it’s the most violent (although it’s certainly at the very top) – but because there isn’t a single ray of light anywhere on that ship. It is a place where end always justifies the means, and survival is the only thing that counts.
For me, the magic of Aguirre’s writing comes from two sources: the first is her excellent understanding of human nature and psychology, and the second her incredible gift for metaphors. If Ann’s elegant, no-nonsense writing style is the body of this story, the few well-placed, hard-hitting metaphors are its very soul. With no more than a few words, Aguirre unfailingly manages to both bring forth the desired emotional response and leave her readers in awe of her writing skills.
The more I tried to choose and point out my favorite thing about this book, the more I realized that such a feat was next to impossible. I was just about ready to put Dred and Jael’s relationship on the pedestal, only to remember, among other things, certain bloody battles that took my breath away. With each new book she writes, Ann Aguirre has to live up to some pretty high standards, and she achieves it so effortlessly every single time.
Perdition will give you no time to breathe, but it will make you appreciate your freedom, the roast beef sandwich you had for lunch, and that extra bar of soap in your bathroom. It will also make you care for its characters despite their awful and violent histories. My recommendation? Get out of that chair and go grab a copy now!