Series: Sirantha Jax, #2
Genres/Themes: science fiction, adventure, unstable intergalactic government
Author: Ann Aguirre
This installment didn't grip me as quickly and unrelentingly as its predecessor, but it was nonetheless a solid and exciting entry to the series. The characters are absolutely addictive, even though this is an episodic, plot-driven book.
Book Description (via Goodreads):
Sirantha Jax is a “Jumper,” a woman who possesses the unique genetic makeup needed to navigate faster than light ships through grimspace. Jax has worked for the Farwan Corporation her entire career. But now the word’s out that the Corp deliberately crashed a passenger ship, and their stranglehold on intergalactic commerce has crumbled—which means that Jax is out of a job. She’s also broke, due to being declared dead a little prematurely. So when the government asks her to head up a vital diplomatic mission, Jax takes it. Her mandate: journey to the planet Ithiss-Tor and convince them to join the Conglomerate. But Jax’s payday is light years away. First, she’ll have to contend with Syndicate criminals, a stormy relationship with her pilot, man-eating aliens, and her own grimspace-weakened body. She’ll be lucky just to make it to Ithiss-Tor alive…
Sure, this is only book two, but I already know that the Sirantha Jax series is going to go down as one of my favorite series. How do I know this? For one, the cast of characters is so magnetic. Unlike with many other books I've read, the details about these personalities cement themselves easily and thoroughly in my mind. I feel like these characters are my friends…how nutty is that? But so it is. It certainly doesn't hurt that Sirantha's first-person present-tense narration is vivid and fits seamlessly.
And speaking of characters, I am really liking one in particular: Vel. Oddly enough, he's an insect (in a manner of speaking). But darnit if he isn't also the most magnetic, nuanced, mysterious character of the lot. The next book, Doubleblind, is supposed to (finally!) be about Vel's home planet, so I'm very much looking forward to further exploration of the compassionate yet regimented bounty hunter.
Now, if comparing this book to its predecessor, Grimspace, I'd have to say that this book was not as gripping. To me, it was largely due to the plot driver; it wasn't until the end of the book that the reason for said plot driver was revealed (leading me to remark, "Oh! So that's why they're supposed to have given a crap about what they spent the last 300 pages doing!"). Before that point, I didn't completely buy into the adventure (since I thought it had no point and felt like it aimlessly drifted). But ultimately, the story was still engaging enough to keep me wanting to find out what perils were to befall my beloved characters. ^_^
Like in Grimspace, Wanderlust is highly episodic in nature. This makes for a very fun read, especially since each successive "episode" ends up more "high stakes" and perilous than the last. I'd be perfect for setting the book down for stretches…except, it's very difficult to put the book down at all. :o)
All's I know is that Ann Aguirre is a great storyteller and a skilled craftswoman when it comes to shaping characters. Wanderlust is a solid piece of science fiction--part of a series that is perfect for urban fantasy fans looking to test the waters of speculative fiction. I want to jump into the next book, but this series needs to be savored. Besides, Wanderlust will make for a great re-read.
Rating: 4 of 5 stars
"I really liked it."