When I first discovered and read this book I was starved of science-fiction with LGBTQ+ Protagonists. I enjoyed it in my whirl wind read through. But, now I have had the chance to read more science-fiction with queer leads, and more has become steadily available. So I set out to reread Ascension, to see if it still held the same place in my heart.
TLDR; While a lot of queer science-fiction still lacks the diversity of this novel (expecially with regards to disability/chronic illnesses) it is no longer a book that I love as I have changed as a reader.
Ascension follows Alana Quick, a starship mechanic, who stows away on the Tangled Axon when the crew comes in search of the services of her sister, Nova. Alana has a chronic illness that requires expensive medication and her ship repair yard barely brings in enough to cover her expenses, so she sees the Tangled Axon as an opportunity to leave her circumstances. However, aboard the Tangled Axon, things do not go according to plan. With a wily crew led by a too-hot-to-handle captain, Alana quickly finds herself in over her head.
In my reread, I didn’t actually get too far into the novel, before I DNFed it. There were several parts of the story that left me dissatisfied. Alana is supposed to be 30 system-years old, but she reads as a very young character. She makes immature and selfish decisions, including ones that could jeopardize her already fragile health and the safety of other people; she often fails to think things through despite her character being highly introspective; and she tries to prove herself as “the best damned sky surgeon” with plans that often backfire.
I also don’t typically like polyamoury in fiction, and this book is very poly heavy. Of course, this is just a personal preference. For some people, this might be exactly what attracts them to the book.
Ascension can read quite slow because Alana is a very introspective character, and the book is from her POV. I didn’t have any problem with this. A lot of what I read could definitely be defined as slow.
Without spoiling anything, the ending was…strange. I didn’t see the final plot twist coming and I don’t know how I felt about it.
Now, having had more opportunities to read sci-fi books with queer MCs, I don’t think that Ascension lives up to my tastes or romantic storyline preferences. But we had fun together in that stage of my life. It’s an interesting experience to outgrow a book you used to recommend, but I have changed as a reader and this book no longer fulfills my needs.