Pros: I just love this world-building!
Cons: Gets a bit depressing
Rating: 5 out of 5
In book one of Ann Aguirre’s Sirantha Jax series, Jax was labeled a terrorist, rescued by people who needed her help, and then (semi-accidentally, mostly to save her own life) destroyed the corporation that ran most of the civilized worlds. In Wanderlust (Sirantha Jax, Book 2), the Conglomerate “rewards” Jax by making her an ambassador–largely because she’s the only one the Ithiss-Tor will deign to speak with because of her friendship with the bounty hunter Velith. First, however, she needs to make sure that her friends on Lachion are all right. Unfortunately, she ends up having to detour on the way there and deal with an emergency station infested with monsters. Then she finds out that, in fact, her friends on Lachion are not doing entirely well–and they’re blaming her. Now she has to find her way off-planet during a war, avoid the Syndicate (which is trying to blackmail Jax to flub her ambassador’s duties by threatening her in-debt mother), and deal with a mysterious illness that seems to be making Jax more and more fragile. Jumping may well kill her sooner rather than later if she doesn’t figure out what’s going on–and how to fix it.
I find Ann Aguirre is particularly good at taking plots in directions I don’t expect, even if that sometimes means simply ending them! We do find out that Jax has a more unusual relationship with grimspace than even she realized, and possibly why. It’s fascinating and I can’t wait to learn more about it. Her mysterious wasting disease and easily-broken bones are another interesting thread. We do get to see Doc again, although in trying circumstances, and Velith is back. The Syndicate turns out to have some of its own intriguing facets.
Things do get rather depressing on the Jax-and-March front. He gets caught up in the war on Lachion and starts retreating back into his old self, when he was a killer-for-hire. I found it a bit hard to read about (being recently divorced, I have trouble reading about people having too much difficulty working things out in a relationship). But it didn’t tip over the line into making me not want to read the book.
The crew takes on a couple of new souls with secrets of their own. I really like the new characters and how they interact with the remaining crew from the last book. One of them is someone who was genetically engineered, and another is an infamous killer. I’m looking forward to reading more!