Review: Space Opera by Catherynne M. Valente

Space OperaAs someone who adores epic space opera tales written by female authors, I was excited for this book. I’d never read anything by Valente before, and this seemed like a great introduction to her work. It absolutely was a fantastic primer on her delightful and illustrative writing style, but this was not the intricate political tale I’d been expecting. 

If you took out all the endless narrative describing events in the past, text bloated with luscious prose and evocative imagery, this story would have worked much better as a novella. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the characters, from Dess to the roadrunner to Omar to the cat (honestly, the cat was probably my favorite), and the detailed descriptions of so much world-building were a master-class in description. But like the Eurovision music contest this book draws its inspiration from, everything just verged on TOO MUCH.

This book is an enjoyable romp through a dazzling larger universe. But if it were a movie, it’d be all spectacle and not quite as much detailed plot as expected from the title. This does work as an introduction to Valente’s work, which I’m eager to read more of, but remember to treat the title as a clever work trick rather than as an advertisement for what you’ll find within.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars. Cross-posted to Amazon and Goodreads.

Published by steelvictory

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. Her debut novel, STEEL VICTORY, was her thesis novel for Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction graduate program in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. Previously, she was one of the co-editors for FAR WORLDS, a speculative fiction anthology. She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (, on Facebook (, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits). She is currently working on more tales set in the world of Limani.

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