Debris - Jo Anderton

I always like it when a novel has an interesting magic system. In Debris everything in the world is made up of semi-sentient magical yellow pions, which everyone can see and control to some extent. A skilled pion binder can build, move and change matter into different forms and they are employed to keep the amenities of the city of Movoc-under-Keeper running. 

Tanyana is a powerful pion manipulator until she is thrown a giant statue by red pions that only she can see. Her fall is both literal and figurative, as when she wakes up she can’t see any pions at all – only the deadly debris that they leave behind. Because of this she is relegated to the ranks of the collectors, the dregs of society who are responsible for cleaning up the debris. Tan hopes to be accepted by her fellow collectors, but they range from uncaring to outright hostile. The only friendly person there is a half-wit called Lad whose brother Kichlan blames Tan for everything bad that happens to the team. Although there is some chemistry between Tan and Kichlan it’s rather faint.
I was very happy with the beginning of Debris. As I mentioned, the magic system is great and it gives you an insight into how something so integral to your life can destroy you when it’s taken away. A great example of this is when Tan walks past a familiar building that she loved because it was designed to specifically show the streams of pions that operate it. Anderton gives this well written scene a feeling of eeriness and loss that is almost palpable. 

However, about one third of the way through the book, the story starts to slow and then drag. This leads to a sudden ending where everything is revealed within the last 20 pages or so. I don’t really like having a major information dump at the end of a novel, when there is very little in the way of lead-up before it. Perhaps if Anderton had used the slow part of Debris to put in some development of the secondary characters, it would have smoothed the way to the ending. 

I also don’t understand some of Tan’s interactions with the technician Devich. He’s the one who puts her through the torturous process of fitting her collector suit, yet she practically drags him into bed because he gave her a glass of water after the fall. She’s pretty much saying:  “Hey, you tortured me by stabbing me in the throat and injecting my bones with liquid silver, but I completely forgive you because you gave me a glass of water. Because of this, and despite the fact that I have shown no interest in a relationship in my life before this, let’s go and have sex.” It could be Tan’s actions are the result of trauma but Devich is a strange choice for her sexual fixation, especially since he doesn’t recognise the other collectors as being people – he’s only interested in their suits. Hello? Bastard alert!

However, despite these few hiccups Debris is an easy book to read so I will probably go and look at the sequel when it comes out.

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