Home / Book Review / Book Review: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Book Review: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Salvage is a YA sci-fi standalone that finds its strength in vulnerability.

Book Review: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Goodreads | Amazon | Alexandra Duncan’s Website

salvage alexandra duncan book review

Title & Author: Salvage by Alexandra Duncan

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy – Science Fiction

Release Date: April 1, 2014

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Greenwillow

How I Got the Book: ARC via NetGalley


“Ava, a teenage girl living aboard the male-dominated deep space merchant ship Parastrata, faces betrayal, banishment, and death. Taking her fate into her own hands, she flees to the Gyre, a floating continent of garbage and scrap in the Pacific Ocean, in this thrilling, surprising, and thought-provoking debut novel that will appeal to fans of Across the Universe, by Beth Revis, and The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood.”

Slow But Steady

I went into reading Salvage knowing it wasn’t the typical YA fantasy romance saga. And, so should you.

This book is more about an emotional journey than anything else. There IS, however, some romance, and I think it’s done well on the side.

Ava’s got it rough. She was born and raised on the spaceship Parastrata, where women do all the menial labor and the big decisions (like who you’ll marry) are left up the male leaders.

Salvage is certainly brutal at times. The trials that Ava endures are painful to watch, but her slowly-building strength and sense of survival are beautiful. It was particularly hard for me to see Ava dominated by others over and over again – even very late in the story. She does persevere and stands out to me as a very unique type of YA heroine.

After one major incident in the book, the pace of the story turned glacial. This always seems to happen to me, so I can’t decide if it’s my natural high at reading a new book wearing off OR if the book really did hit a slow point.

Salvage is definitely a strong read, but I did struggle to finish it. It’s not the action and adventure type of story many readers are used it. It’s a steady action that is building up to the final scenes at the end.

I appreciated its stanalone-ness, and I think Duncan achieved more in this one book than many YA series in their entirety.

What really sold me on the story, though, was Ava’s relatable-ness. As she’s piecing out the truth of her existence, she asks tough questions and seeks to find the answers. Her growing awareness that the world is not quite how she imagined was something I could immediately identify with.


If you’re seeking a female empowerment type story with a side of romance, then this is the book for you. The slow journey of self-discovery is both harsh and lovely. It had slow build-up of action, so readers used to plot twists and battles at every turn should be warned. Salvage is a well-written story that lovers of strong female protagonists will heartily enjoy.

About Lisa Parkin

I'm a hardcore lover of young adult fiction and have been reviewing books since 2011. Other interests include Downton Abbey, heat lightning storms, Harry Potter land and (begrudingly) one orange tabby.
  • Kim Maule

    I’m undecided on this one… I was only “kind of” interested in the synopsis, and I’m pretty sure a “glacial pace” will be a problem for me. Might wait a while on this one.