Debris by Jo Anderton is a novel that I would love to watch as a movie. It has a strong, but flawed female character. I could easily feel empathy for her. The novel has cool special effects and wonderful world-building. It also has a fast-paced plot.
Briefly, the story takes place in the future, where people have learned to mentally manipulate pions, the very building blocks of matter. While the novel is clearly science fiction, the premise has a bit of the feel of magic. Tanyana is a skilled architect, who leads a circle of other pion manipulators. In the opening chapter, they are working on a magnificent – very expensive, very high profile– sculpture, when there is a tragic incident. The sculpture is totally destroyed, and Tanyana’s life is devastated. She loses her ability to see, let alone manipulate pions. She is left with grotesque scars. The government is more interested in having Tanyana make restitution, than hearing her side of the story. They tell her the incident is a tragic incident caused by her over estimating her abilities. She believes that she has been the victim of an attack by something she has never seen before. Against her will, Tanyana is surgically fitted with a “suit,” which will allow her to become a collector of debris, the byproduct of pion manipulation. This job is considered one of the lowest in society. The suit first looks like a series of odd, metal rings around various parts of her body. The suit begins deep in Tanyana’s blood stream. It can extend out to form tools or even a shield. It also has odd symbols on it, some of which allow her to be called to emergencies. Tanyana forms a romantic relationship with the technician who designed the suit and implanted it in her. In the rest of the book, Tanyana tries to adjust to her literal and metaphoric falls and to rise up again. She learns how to become a skilled debris collector. She makes new friends and allies. She uncovers the truth behind her “accident” and the strange things that caused it.
For me, Debris was more than just an exciting story. It hints at the yin and yang that work together to form our world. It describes overcoming a fall from societal grace. It talks about the power in “flaws.”
Debris is the first book in the planned Veiled Worlds Series, and I am looking forward to reading the next book.