Angel on the Ropes

Angel on the Ropes - Jill Shultz (I got this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

2.5 stars. I enjoyed some parts of the story, but others almost made me give up at times, especially in the beginning (not enough for me to drop the book, though).

The circus routines are described in marvellous ways, and I found it easy to picture them, even though I'm not too familiar with such performances. They didn't seem repetitive either, and I could feel that the author had done her research and put a lot of care into making her readers *be* in the audience, rather than remain distanciated readers.

The world presented in the book is also a complex one—a very peculiar colony (more a Dyson sphere than a traditional solar system) with its various classes and problems. However, things were a little confusing at first regarding those, and it took me some time to understand what Titans or Seekers really were; although the author introduced all those in such a way as to avoid info-dumping (which is good),

What constituted the biggest problem for me with "Angel on the Ropes" was that the plot seemed to end up dwarfed and rushed at some point. It started with concepts such as leopards (people born with spots on their skins) being hunted down and killed by Plaguellants (religious extremists who believe said leopards are responsible for a terrible illness). Around the 40% mark, it then moved to something much more complex, involving a very flawed healthcare system in which people have to gamble in casinos in order to have some of of their organs healed—winning means receiving cures, losing means getting indentured, sometimes for years. Another subplot involved a species imported from Earth, with the potential of totally thwarting the local ecosystem. All of those collided into something pretty complex, and I felt that they would have deserved more development. As it is, the story seemed rushed in parts, with too many others left in the dark, or dropped along the way.

The ending especially made me feel let down. While I understand what it tried to achieve (and this was a beautiful lesson), it didn't solve the aforementioned subplots. It also made some characters appear as they had taken a U-turn that may have happened, sure, but only later, with more "meat" and reasons in between, so to say. I kept waiting for more, and "more" didn't happen.

I don't know if this is the beginning of a series, or a standalone book. If there's a second volume on its way, it could explain why some subplots were left aside for now, but I'm not sure.