Jo Anderton – Suited

Tanyana has chosen to help the Keeper, to stand against the Puppet Men, who continue to force the Debris into unnatural creations.

And when even her own suit becomes aggressive against her, Tanyana must weigh some very personal issues against her determination to serve the greater good.

Having read Jo Anderton’s debut novel, Debris, last week, I was able to jump in to its sequel, Suited, almost immediately. I had my niggles and my problems with Debris, but at the same time thoroughly enjoyed the novel and I was curious to see whether my problems with Debris would hold up during my reading of Suited. Fortunately, many of my problems with Debris were addressed in Suited. Unfortunately, Suited presented with a set of problems of its own.

One of the problems I had with Debris was the fact that its main character Tanyana at times lacked a feeling of agency. She vacillates between figuring out what had caused her fall and acceptance of a new life as a collector. In Suited, Tan takes far more direct action. Her attitude changed from one of relative helplessness and inactivity, to one where she takes charge and decisive action to figure out what is going on. She not only figures out what is going on, she also sets out to solve it. During this process she learns more about her collector’s suit and she learns to control it even further. I liked the fact that Tan took far more action and control of her own life. Working with her Collector team and reconnecting with some of the members of her Binder’s circle, Tan figures out how to help the Keeper to save the city of Movoc-under-Keeper. In addition to this larger arc of world saving action, there is the smaller story of Tan’s personal life. Even with Devich out of the picture, not everything is sunshine and roses for Tanyana and Kichlan. While there is plenty of angsting by both sides about this relationship in the book, this isn’t detrimental to the story, in fact, when it does have a large influence on the plot, it is even beneficial.

Suited is not just marked by Tan’s developing romantic relationship with Kichlan, there are also the deepening friendships with her fellow collectors, Lad in particular. In addition, we get several new characters in the form of Fedor and Aleksey, new collectors we meet, and the group of Unbound, of whom we’ve already met Eugeny, Valya and Yicor in Debris. I really enjoyed learning more about these characters, especially about Tan’s collecting team. But my favourite secondary character next to Kichlan has to be Lad. He was my favourite in the previous book, and he remains my favourite in this book. I just loved this wise man stuck in an unwise body and I loved the growth he showed throughout the book.

The other problem I had with Debris was its uneven pacing, largely due to Tanyana’s veering between bouts of action regarding the mystery of her fall and her inaction when she sank into the collecting life. Suited is far better paced than its predecessor, probably largely due to the fact that Tanyana takes charge of her life and doesn’t keep switching between action and inaction. No, Suited builds up the pacing well, though instead of working up to one final confrontation, Anderton allows the wave of built tension break several times on a big event and then rebuilding the tension back up for the next one. This worked well in terms of releasing some of the tension and not whipping the book into an unsustainable, frenetic pace, but did have me flip forward at one point to check whether these last hundred pages were actually part of Suited or whether they were an extract for book three.

So, while Suited solved my major problems with Debris, as stated above, it has some problems of its own. It is obviously a middle book in a trilogy, in the same way that Debris was definitely the first in a series; after the set up of the first book, this book is meant to move us along to be ready for the grand finale in book three. So some questions are answered, but most remain open and there are even several questions added to the list. To credit Anderton, the fact that we need to discover lots more information – mostly about the nature of debris, the puppet men and the Keeper – and get lots of more questions, doesn’t mean this is a slow book, on the contrary, there is plenty of action. All in all, I didn’t mind the second-book-syndrome as much as I did my biggest problem with Suited, which was its massive, infodumpy, ‘here’s the story so far’-start to the book. That really bothered me and it made for rough reading, as I felt it was basically these two puppet men telling each other what had gone before, from a file they’d clearly had both read before. I understand that when books are published a stretch of time apart, it might be helpful to the reader to have a refresher on what had gone before and this analysis of the situation might be an original way to go about it. However, since I’d just read Debris the week before, I didn’t need the refresher and so all that stood out for me, was its clunkiness. Once beyond this section though, we move back to Tanyana and I happily sank back into the story.

Was Suited flawless? No, it wasn’t, it had a problematic opening and some second-book issues. Does that mean it wasn’t an enjoyable read? Not in the least! I enjoyed Suited quite a bit, though some of the events of the book left me chagrined or saddened – really saddened, as in welling eyes saddened – I did come out of the book with a sense of progress from the first book. I found Tanyana’s character more balanced and the pacing better, even if the book didn’t leave me quite as breathless as Debris did, and there were some answers to questions left open in the first book. I do know that I’ll be first in line for book three in The Veiled Worlds series, because I’m invested enough in Tanyana and her friends that I want to know how its ends and get some answers for those questions posed in the first two books. Suited will be published by Angry Robot Books in the UK and international territories on July 5th and is already out in the US.

This book was provided for review by the publisher.