Review: Suited by Jo Anderton
SUITED is book two in Jo Anderton’s The Veiled Worlds trilogy and is the follow-up to Debris.
“The bitter war between the sinister Puppet Men and the nebulous Keeper for the control of the ancient city of Movoc-under-Keeper has intensified. For Tanyana, imprisoned within her extraordinary suit and cast down as a lowly debris collector, choosing a side should be simple. But when even her own suit becomes aggressive against her, Tanyana must weigh some very personal issues against her determination to serve the greater good.”
Suited picks up just after Debris left off – a handy little recap of book one in the form of conversation between two experimenting Puppet Men gives the reader an excellent grounding to where the situation now lies. I, for one found this particularly helpful; Anderton has built an extremely complex world with multiple characters, and this Analysis Of Past Events is a clever way of reminding the reader where the story is at. It also gives us a chance to settle in to a world literally made and held together by pions before chapter one – when wham! the action hits hard and fast.
As with Debris (you can read my review here), Anderton expects the reader to keep up – although she writes a rich, layered world, there’s no mucking around with over-explained or too-luscious details. Instead, we’re thrown into the deep end of world that sits somewhere between fantasy and science fiction, dotted with steampunk elements. In book one, it was the world-building that really blew me away. Suited capitalises on Jo Anderton’s talent here, but with more detail in passing. We’re privy to more history, politics and mythology than last time – but only as protagonist Tanyana herself finds this information.
The biggest difference with Suited – and where it really comes into its own – is the character development.
Tanyana Vladha spent much of Debris bound up in her own search for why and who made her fall from grace, both literally and figuratively. She has lost any trace of being a victim (though Tan didn’t exactly play that part as well as the Puppet Men would have liked her to…) and is now taking far more action regarding her situation. Tanyana was never a passive character, but in Suited, she is no longer helpless, beginning to take control of both the mysterious metallic suit that is now part of her and her own destiny. There is more at stake in Suited – it’s not just about Tanyana, but about the survival of their world and the people she cares about. Tan is more empathetic; her relationships with her debris collecting team have grown along with her own sense of belonging. Her romantic relationship with Kichlan is never ‘icky’ or out of place and helps to move the plot along. Kichlan’s brother Lad is still the most interesting character of this series next to Tanyana, even with the introduction of a whole bucket-load of new personalities. The intrigue and mythology surrounding the Keeper himself made a lot more sense, and I found myself having plenty of ‘a-ha!’ moments.
My only disappointment with Suited came in the form of the deception – after the betrayal in Debris, this one was a little too easy to see coming, however it didn’t detract from the storyline itself. I found it to be more of a case of wanting to scream at Tanyana and her friends to watch their backs, look over their shoulders.
Suited is a more emotional book than Debris. I’m not sure if that’s because as a reader I’ve come to know and love this cast of characters more, or if Anderton has set out to deliberately push buttons, to make us care about their fates and the world of Movoc-under-Keeper. There were places where I had to catch my breath with the simple (but oh, so well done) horror of a single moment: ‘…The debris came away from her body. Most of her stomach came with it…’ and then there were the moments where I had to stop and reach for the tissues. Seriously. Suited doesn’t suffer from Flat Middle Book Syndrome – while it can’t stand alone without Debris, it moves the overall arc of the trilogy along at a great pace. If you enjoyed Debris and haven’t yet got your hands on Suited – what are you waiting for?
Published by Angry Robot
ISBN – 978-0-85766-157-9
Paperback – 458 pages
Also available as an ebook via www.angryrobotbooks.com