Review of Javenny

Review By Ty Black

Javenny Pink, a former model, left her former life behind and became spokesman for The Church of His Message after being rescued from the chaos which engulfed Boulder, Colorado in the aftermath of a mega-earthquake. Now intrusive dreams have begun to effect large portions of Earth’s population, and Javenny feels a new purpose for her life. Elder Reide, her savior in Boulder, has other plans, however, and the fate of the human race could be at stake as the source of the dreams approaches Earth.

Javenny is Canadian author Al Onia’s debut novel, but his short fiction been featured in such online venues as Ares Magazine, and Perihelion Science Fiction, and earned two Aurora Award nominations for it. Onia’s first novel, published by well-respected Canadian small press Bundoran, has now garnered high praises from Hugo Award winner Robert Sawyer, who called it “One of the best first novels I’ve read in years.”

Onia is a geophysicist in Western Canada’s oil and gas industry, and his background shows throughout the book. The future state of western North American water resources plays in one of the book’s plot points, as do the intricacies of diamond exploration and mining rights. Even though Onia explores religious and social themes in Javenny, the world builds for those themes to play out in is one which is mostly within the realm of the possible from the standpoint of contemporary physics. Thus, Javenny is a hard sci-fi novel with a soft sci-fi feel.

In the beginning chapters, Javenny has a proliferation of characters which I found hard to keep track of, and that was exacerbated by the way none of the characters have noticeably distinct voices. (I found the dialogue throughout the work stilted, probably because few of the characters use contractions.) Also, the tension sagged for a while in the third quarter, and there was a moment where one of the main characters, Coye Archeron, had a sudden and poorly-explored change in character, from mercenary capitalist to self-sacrificing disciple.

That said, the book’s climax makes up for for the soft spots. Once the pieces are in place, Javenny explodes into a tense reckoning as the threads Onia’s laid out collide. There was a feeling of inevitability about Javenny herself going up against the approaching threat to humanity, but when things started to collide I honestly didn’t know how the author was going to get her there. I give Javenny three of five stars.

248 pp. Bundoran Press. $16.95

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