We return to the Nelson Mandela Medical Space Station for the latest chapter in S.E. Sasaki’s space opera thriller. Saving Grace is book four of The Grace Lord Series, one of the most original and interesting sagas I have read in quite some time.
This is largely due to the author herself, a working physician who knows how to craft gripping stories with high doses of realism. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk, as subject matter experts can sometimes bog down narratives with complicated language. Not so here. Sasaki always strikes the right balance between technical accuracy and punchy drama.
Saving Grace treats us to an icy new villain, some unexpected faces, and a delightful mutant foliage that steals the show (more on it in an bit). This time around, the station itself becomes the target of a mysterious entity. As it begins to infect the crew, Grace is forced to unravel the chaos while dealing with her own personal crisis, namely that of a bigoted father (towards our beloved Bud the android). The tension becomes palpable in a hurry, and despite the medicine-in-space setting, the core themes are disturbingly topical.
I can’t delve into further details without venturing into spoiler territory, so let’s pivot to the highlight of the book: Plant Thing. This absurdly charming character had me roaring with laughter on multiple occasions. It’s a multi-eyed mutant flora that wanders the station while shedding fruits, vegetables, and a healthy supply of oxygen. It’s also obsessed with protecting Dr. Al-Fadi, which serves up some delicious comedy fodder.
As a side note, I must commend the author for her clever use of formatting. When crafting a story with multiple forms of communication (neural links between the station, androids, and a mutant plant), it can be very tricky to separate them from normal speech. Sasaki’s solution is to use bracketed blocks, which effectively cues the reader to enter a cerebral chat. She also used a lowercase pattern for Plant Thing, which deftly conveys its child-like innocence.
Overall, Saving Grace is a wonderful continuation of The Grace Lord Series. It is chockfull of intrigue, drama, and humor, all of which are beautifully balanced to create a compelling story. Sasaki has a knack for shaping cool visuals, from delicate medical procedures to epic station battles. It’s an easy recommendation, both for the latest book and the series as a whole.
Learn more at SESasaki.com