As someone who regularly speaks at writing and fandom conventions about the topic of “genre blending” or “genre blurring” in contemporary writing, I have some pretty strong opinions on the subject. Carriger’s science-fiction/romance/mystery is certainly one that I will now hold up as a great example of how to blend things right.
This novel could not have worked without the science fiction elements. Carriger doesn’t spend a lot of time on the science of her space station or the politics of the greater universe, but she spends just the right amount of time on things such as alien biology and sociology, and how human biology and sociology both fit and clash where appropriate to the plot. They might be humanoid, but the galoi are truly alien in the ways that matter. Carriger also has fun with language, especially in Tristol’s point of view scenes, which were a delight to read.
The science fiction elements are also what make the mystery elements of this story possible. I hesitate to say more in fear of spoilers, but the mystery is both relevant to the alien nature of the galoi and utterly poignant to this human reader in view of current political issues so close to home.
And finally, the romance. Tristol and Drey are so freaking adorable that it made my teeth hurt — in a good way. I knocked half a star off this review because I felt their relationship might have evolved TOO quickly, but at the same time, there is no doubt that the characters are actually utterly perfect for each other.
This book should not be missed by Carriger fans, even though who are more comfortable in her historical and contemporary fantasy worlds. Her writing shines in this new arena, too.